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vi CONTENTS 

Your Second Job. Albert Schweitzer v. 

A Boy Who Was Traded for a Horse. James Saxon Childers la 
‘The Titanic Is Unsinkable.* Hanson I'F. Baldwin 13 

When Krakatoa Blew Up. Ernst Behreadl 13! 

Miracle Under the Arctic Sea. 

Commander William J. Lederer, us:^ 142 

The Quest of our lives. I. A R. 150 

The Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Met. Tom Clarke 154 
They Saw the Birth of a Volcano. Lois Mattox Miller 161^ 
^Miose Business Was It? Fulton Oursler 164.* 

A Plea for Less ‘Happy’ Talk. Kathleen Xorris 171 

The Discovery of Anaesthesia. Hugh H. Toung 174 

Lincoln Goes to Gettysburg. Carl Sandburg 17® 

Chaplain Courageous. Q^eniin Remolds 182 

He Loved Me Truly. Bernadme Bail^ and Dorothy Walworth 1 89 
‘We Have With Us Tonight — ^ Dale Carnegie t 95 - 

Pop’s Boy. Irmn Ashkenaiy 199 » 

Confessions of an Actor. John Banymore . 205 

' ’WTio is this Mysterious Murderer? Joseph Bomstein 208-, 

‘The Light in the Window.’ Lois Mattox Miller 2i5»f 

The Enemy’s Masterpiece of Espionage. J. Edgar Hoover 218 » 
Mamnia and her Bank Account. Kathryn Forbes 224 

Mother’s Bills. Clarence Day 228 * 

How Harmful Are Cigarettes? Roger William Rus 231 

How to Guess Your Age. Corey Ford 241 * 

Genius. Its Cause aftd Care. Bruce Bltsen 243 

Surgerv in a Submarine. George Weller 249 

What li I Had Refused? Agnes Rolhery 252 

The American Language. H. L. Mencken 

The Most Unforof«»M''»-’ 



, THE 

Reader’s Digest 

OMNIBUS 







FOREWORD BY 

H.E. BATES 




and: 





^ foreword 

did indeed turn out to be vddely, uneasily and, for about half 
the time, hideously distracdve. It was the enemy of quietness. 

It was a paradox of people having more leisure to enjoy and 
yet less lime, apparently, in which to enjoy it. There was alwa^ 
something else to do - even if it was only, for a good part of the 

STurroundings, it may well have seemed &at boolis 

would be inevitable victims. In fact it was not so. 

ing emotion of man is fear, then it is pretty certain that his 

governing appetite is inquisitiveness. He wants to blow more 

Ibout himself; he wants to knowslill more about his 

above all he hungers to know more about the ^airs of ^e 

famous, the notorious, the aristocraPe, the odd, 

adventirous, and the purely 

men, both past and present, m worto that he know and 

worlds that he has never a hope , 

Tincoln speak at Gettysburg? How did the Ttimtc smK. 
What is It like to be a young healthy girl one minute an 
Tbumt on a forci^ MWde the ne«? mat ts gernn^ 
L "s"Lking really kUl you? And «hat «actly ^ the M 
Stream ^ lust as the novel k in reality a highly 

SsMdrtrfTa^^tnott catholic gossip-coluiim to 
Moreover, it differs from all other gossip-columns m “ 

^hZpW. nod it is that, I think, n-hich .a the secret of® 

character. 



♦Rirtv vears I have two lavounics, wwwav-a ... — ' 

Paris, London, New York and ^ £.T< Up Tmr 

another year, pe ^ be™^^ 




First published November 1952 by 
ANDRE DEUTSCH LIMITED 
12 Thayer Street, Manchester Square 
London Wi 

Second impression November 1952 
All Rights Reserved 


Printed in Great Bntain by 

TONBRIDGE PRINTERS LTD 

Tonbridge Kent 



CONTENTS 


Foreword, by H E Bates * ix 

Our Four Months on an Ocean Raft Thor H^erdahl ^ - 

My Eyes Have a Cold Nose Hector Chemgty 9 » 

London Nocturne Don Stanford 15 « 

The Day We Flew the Kites Frances Fowler 19 ' 

■^An Open Letter to America’s Students Dwight D Eisenhower 21 » 
A String of Blue Beads Fulton Oursler 27 * 

A Lodging for the Night. Katharine Brush 30 * 

The Most Unforgettable Character I’ve Met 

James Saxon Childers 33 • 

‘When Are You Going to Turn Respectable ’’ Thaddeus Ashly 93 
The Invasion* I. The Great Decision Allan A. Mtchie 50 
„ II Armada in Action Frederic Sondem Jnr. 57 

„ III Beach-head Panorama Ira Jfolfert 63 

The Heart. Wondrous and Courageous Organ 

Heniy Morton Robinson 71 

The Night My Number Came Up 

Air Marshal Sir Victor Goddard 74* 

Journey for Margaret. IF. L. IVhite 81 * 

The Basque Sheepherder and the Shepherd Psalm 

James K Wallace 87 

The Victorious Vratils Ralph Wallace 91 

Utama of the Airways Archibald Rutledge 97, 

Child Pioneer Honore Willsie Morrow 100 

Obey That Impulse William Moulton Marston 105 

America’s Treasure Isles Edison Marshall 1 10 

God’s Eager Fool. The Reverend John A. O'Brien 1 15 


V 



CONTENTS Vii 

/ 

/ 

Tilhc Scrubbed On. Wtlliam F McDermott and Karl Detzer 265 , 

Epic of the Arctic Ruth and Edward Brecher 269 c 

Transaction in Tahiti. James Norman Hall 276 . 

It Happened on the Sub\% ay. Paul Deufschman 281 » 

Blue River in the Sea A. H. Z Carr 285 » 

Tlie Most Unfoi^ettable Character I’ve Met 
^ Robert Flaherty 288 1, 

'' I Was a Male War Bride Heart Rochard 293 • 

Two for a Penny. John Steinbeck 297 - 

^\^len Hannah Var Eight Yar Old 

Katharine Peabody Girling 302 . 

\Miat Pra^ er Can Do Fulton Qiirsler 306 

Petronella A G McRae 312 * 

Seven Reasons t\hy a Scientist Believes in God 

A. Crrssy Mormon 315 

‘Mv Ninety Acres ’ Louu Bromfield 320 

— ^And Sudden Death. J C Furnas 325* 

Grand Cannon. Donald Culross Peatlie 331 » 

State Fair Phil Stong 335 

^ The Size of Lit ing Things. Julian S Huxl^ 340 

Mothers of the ^Vild Archibald Rutledge 344 ^ 

The Best Investment I Ever Made A. J Cronin 347, 

The Horse that ^Vent on a Holiday. Frederic Sondem Jnr. 351 

My Most Unforgettable Character. Marc A. Rose 355 

Are You Ahve^ Stuart Chase 361 . 

Crash in Shangri-La Corporal Margaret Hastings, wag 363 

^The Rescue on Station Charlie Captain Paul B. Cronk 379 , 

The Perfect Case Anthony Abbot 389* 

Lift Up Your Eves to Man el. Cljde Fisher 394 

Twenty Minutes of Reality. Margaret Prescott Montague 399* 

Acknowledgements 403 





FOREWORD 


The present century has seen the rapid extension of five in- 
ventions - six, if you count the comic-strip - all of which ofier 
pleasant temptations towards a life of easy ilhteracy. These 
devices, telephone, dictaphone, cinema, radio and television, 
all offer aural and visual mezins of expression as substitutes for 
the printed page, and it is m fact an irony of our time that they 
have made it possible for modem man to run his business, enjoy 
his leisure, expand his social life and even to be in some sort of 
degree adult and educated \vithout the tiresome necessity of 
having to read or write a word 

I do not suppose that, thirty years ago, the founders of 
Reader’s Digest had any idea of counteracting such tendencies. 
They may well, m fact, have taken an entirely opposite view. 
It is possible that they saw before them a vast new literacy, 
expanding and unsatisfied They may well have reasoned that 
as this literacy mcreased so the number of books published 
would also mcrease, -with the result that man might choke 
himself to death ivith words. They may also have reasoned that 
the shape of the new century would be a bewildering kaleido- 
scope of new distractions, of which in fact film and radio were 
already part. Man would not only have more to read but less 
and less time in which to read it. He would be like a person 
entenng a restaurant for a snack lunch and finding himself 
confironted ivith a table crowded with half a thousand hors 
d’cemTes. Somebody would have to help him select the tastiest 
morsels for himself and perhaps, in domg so - who knoivs^ — whet 
his appetite for more. 

"WTiether this was so or not it seems to me that, at the end of 
this thirt>' years. Reader’s Digest might well claim that for every 
reader film and radio and television have killed or merely 
ansesthetised, it has created or kept alive another. The century 


IX 



FOREWORD 


El 


see beyond the stars we don’t see* a pattern of universes upon 
unh erses upon umverses for which ^^lss Gertrude Stein’s drag- 
ging repetitions of phrase seem almost the only possible kind of 
description to use In particular it speaks of a star called Alpha 
Hercults - a body ‘so fantastically huge that if it were m the 
position of our sun it would engulf the sun and extend beyond 
the orbit of Mars'’ 

Those readers i\ho, like me, grow occasionally tired of new 
media of illiteracy, new demonstrations of atomic power and in 
particular of that speaous catch-phrase of our time, ‘the end of 
cmlisation as i\e know it’, mil find, I think, a good deal of 
satisfaction in these pieces, both an expression of the Digest 
philosophy. They will like in particular the characters that 
appear towards the end of the Krakatoa stoiy*, most especially 
the Spider, To the Krakatoa story the Spider is as the dove w'as 
to the story of the Ark I will not spoil the reader’s pleasure by 
anticipating or by sa^nng why or how. I wtU simply say: ponder 
the spider. The entrance of that tiny creature mto the world of 
Krakatoa seems to me as historically, emotionally and spiritually 
dramatic as almost an) thing I ever read. INTien you have read 
it you will get, I think, a clearer perspective on httle things like 
Bikini, on great things like Alpha Hercuhs and on altogether 
unpredictable things like spiders and ourselves. 

For the rest, you wtU find something of everything here, 
including Mr hlencken The piece by Mr Mencken is the 
exception to Readers Digest’s fairly general rule that it does 
not pnnt fiction, except those everyday pieces of fiction 
like It Happened on the Subvuay, w'hich appear in reality to be 
modern miracles of fantasy. Mr Mencken came from Baltimore, 
which IS perhaps why his piece on the relative virility of 
Amencan and British English is such a picturesque lie. Many 
readers - especially English readers - may like to amuse them- 
selves bv blowing a counterblast at Mr Mencken, beginning 
with a selection on the American side of a few w’ords hke 
elevator, mortician and transportation, and on the English side 
lift, undertaker and carry, together with a few good robust 
old-fashioned and new-fashioned ones like soodle and slommack 
and horse-face and whittle-bntches and you’ve had it and spiv. \\Tio 
ever heard of anti-bounce clif^ Only, I assure you, Mr Mencken. 

Volcanoes, stars, miracles, invasions, disasters, murders, acts 



XU 


FOREWORD 


of God, adventures, heroics, im-heroics, men, spiders and 
Mr Mencken - there is probably not a facet of man and his 
extraordinary behaviour that has not at one time or another 
been discovered by iht Reader's Digest microscope and magnified, 
to the pleasure of infinite numbers of readers, in ite o\vn 
particular, selective way. This, on second thoughts, simply 
cannot be true. If it were. Reader’s Digest would fold up its 
shutters tomorrow and the new forces of illiteracy, armoured 
with plastic and chromium, might have advanced another step 
or two. 

I do not think this is likely to happen : which is why I suggested, 
previously, that you should ponder the spider. For it is my 
impression that the spider is the most interesting character in 
this anthology, and that its editors, like myself, cherish a 
considerable faith in that creature. 


H.E. BATES 



OUR FOUR MONTHS 
ON AN OCEAN RAFT 

Condensed from dispatches to Pforth American Kewspaper Alliance 
THOR HEYERDAHL 

Last Apnl five other young Scandina\T.an scientists and I 
stepped aboard a 45-foot balsa-wood raft at Callao, Peru, and 
set forth, at the mercy of ^\'ind and current, on a drffting trans- 
pacific journey that was to consume four months and cover 
more than 4,300 miles. Our destination was the Tuamotu 
Archipelago of the Polynesian Islands. Our objective: to prove 
my theory that Polynesia was settled 1,500 years ago by seafarers 
from Peru. 

Many scholars have pointed out remarkable parallels be- 
tween early Peru and the Pacific island world. The sweet 
potato and the calabash were important cultivated plants m 
both places when the first Europeans arrived. Neither can 
generate across the ocean ivithout the aid of man. The PoljTiesian 
name for sweet potato was ‘kumara’, and ‘kumara’ also was its 
ancient name among the aborigines of Peru, where botanists 
state the sweet potato originated. 

The local tongues in both areas have various other words in 
common. The sacred leader of the pre-Incan Peruvians w'as 
Kon-Tiki, the god of creation. Among Marquesa Polynesians, 
too, Tiki is the pnnapal legendary progenitor. 

Yet one school of ethnologists has contended there could have 
been no contact because no craft the Peruvian aborigines 

in *Tht DtgesC «n 1947 



2 


reader’s JJIGEST OMNIBUS 

possessed was capable of crossing the Pacific. Their only boats 
were balsa rafts and small boats consisting of bundles of reeds 
lashed together. The latter were the same as the mokihi reed 
boat of the Maori-Polynesians. 

To test the feasibility of such a voyage, we built and equipped 
a raft as nearly as possible the way the ancients must have done. 
Peruvian fishermen still build such rafts on a smaller scale. Ours, 
which we christened Kon-Ttki, measured 45 by 18 feet. Nine 
great balsa logs, averaging two feet in diameter, were lashed 
together, arranged like organ pipes, the longest in the middle, 
so as to give the raft a bow. Nme smaller logs were placed on 
top as crossbeams. Between these we stowed our provisions, and 
covered them with a deck of split bamboo. Amidships we built 
a bamboo hut, eight by 15 feet, to protect the radio equip- 
ment, delicate meteorological and hydrographic instruments 
and personal belongings. In front of the hut we rigged a 
rectangular sail, 21 by 16 feet. In the stem was a long 
steering oar. 

Besides myself, the crew included Herman Watzinger, 31, a 
mechanical engineer in charge of meteorological and hydro- 
graphic observations; Erik Hesselberg, 33, our navigator and 
photographer; Bengt Danielsson, 27, in charge of all plans 
concerning food and water; Torstein Raaby, 29, and Knut 
Haugland, 30, both radio operators. 

On 28 Apnl we were towed out of Callao harbour by a 
Peruvian navy tug and set adrift. As we cast loose, we hoisted 
our sail bearing the painted head of Kon-Tiki. 

{From this point on, the expedition’s actimties are recorded in the 
following radio dispatches, picked up by amateur operators and related 
to the North American Newspaper Alliance.'^ 

May 13. We have been adrift for two weeks and have been 
carried over 500 miles by wnds and the Humboldt Current. A 
heavy storm came up soon after the Andean range dropped 
below the horizon. For five days and nights we struggled at the 
big steenng oar to keep the raft’s stem to the wind. Two men 
were necessary to handle the huge sweep. But the raft proved 
amazingly buoyant and swiftly climbed to the top of the most 
menacing rollers. The central portion was dry at all times. Life 
is comfortable inside our airy bamboo hut. "We pass the time 
reading and studying. 



OUR FOUR MONTHS ON AN OCEAN RAFT 3 

The amount of fish life around us is amazing. It is like 
sailing over an aquarium. Flying fish, attracted by our gas 
lamp at night, fly right into the hut By using them for bait 
we can catch more fish in five minutes than we can eat in 
two days. 

On 6 May a huge whale headed directly at us, snorting like a 



galloping horse. He approached mthm six feet of us before he 
dived, slid under the raft, and then lay immobile. We ivatched 
In'! shiny black body hover under us, then saw it slowly sink 
deeper and deeper into the sea 

On 10 May "^Vatzinger dived under the raft to fix one of our 
four centre-boards. After his dive he sat on the edge of the raft, 
dangling his feet in the water Suddenly we saw a brown shark 
gliding rapidly for him Heyerdahl heaved a harpoon into its 
back. A desperate fight ensued, during i\hich another harpoon 
was bent useless upon striking the shark’s head. The thrashing 
shark finally whipped around, snapped through the line, 
and swam away ivith the harpoon still sticking out of its 
back 

Herman has decided to let the centre-board repairs go. 








4 reader’s digest omnibus 

May 27. We have now spent one month on the raft and have 
covered 1,100 miles. No ships since our first night off Peru. 
The raft is in perfect condition. The -vvind has blown always 
south-east, and its push on our sail, plus the drag of our 
oar lashed behind, keeps the course steady without effort on 
our part. 

The ancient Peruvians knew what they were doing when 
they built a raised bamboo deck amidships. Even average seas 
wash constantly over the main logs. But they never run higher 
than about a foot above the raft. Bow and stem waves break 
with great force but disappear quickly betiveen the open main 
logs. If there are sharks around to prevent a dip in the ocean, 
the bow becomes a perfect bathtub in the hot sun. 

The logs now are covered entirely by finnges of green seaweed 
and clusters of red and blue shells. On calm days we see small 
crabs drifting past us, riding on floating feathers of sea birds. 
Seeing the raft, the crabs rush over to hide in the seaweed 
and feed on the shells. 

Tiny fish hide between the logs, and they attract quantities 
of larger fish. A toothbrush dipped in the sea will bring big 
dolphins rushing out from under the raft to investigate. 

^une 6. On a cloudy night the phosphorescence of the w'atcr 
makes all fish near the surface look luminous. Last night three 
huge mammals moved up to the raft in pitch darkness. Vague, 
glowing shapes, 20 feet long, they drifted astern like fluttering 
ghosts. 

June 7. Knut Haugland was squatting aft washing some 
clothes. He suddenly looked into the face of a huge monster. 
It had a head so incredibly great and so stupidly ugly - the 
ffog-like mouth was four feet wide — that Knut cried out from 
sheer horror. 

The monster’s body w'as brown, spotted with white dots. The 
huge head, %vith tiny eyes, converged backwards to a narrow 
tail that was fully 25 feet away. The tail had fins emerging from 
the surface of the sea, and a large dorsal fin ran along its back - 
which was six feet wde. 

{The monster was a whale shark, one of the largest and ugliest of 
all sea creatures.) 

1 Ve lashed 40 pounds of dolphin meat to our six largest hooks 
and attached this to a steel and heavy rope line. The monster 



OUR FOUR MONTHS ON AN OCEAN RAFT 5 

lazily approached the bait like an old submarine, and followed 
us, half curious and half indifferent, for half an hour. Fmally its 
head touched the stem log where Hesselberg stood ready inth 
a heavy harpoon. He thrust it down wth all his strength deep 
into the creature’s neck 

Further developments are hard to recollect. The monster 
seemed to become an enormous, lashingmachmeofmdestructible 
steel. Giant fountains of water sprayed into the air. I caught a 
bnef glimpse of Haugland and Raaby clinging to each other 
i\hile upside doivn in mid-arr. WTien the commotion died doivn 
the broken wooden shaft of the harpoon floated to the surface, 
200 yards away. The monster was gone. 

June 25. Now, farther from land than we shall be at any 
point on our tnp, we have come to feel at home on our raft. 
Occasionally, on moonlight mghts, two or three of us drift ofifm 
our rubber ^nghy to look at the raft from a distance. As it 
floats along ivith one lamp astern, its thatched jungle hut and 
the huge sail rising from &e sea, the craft looks like something 
from a fairy tale. Then the ocean rises up between the dinghy 
and the raft, and the sea is wide and lonely. We always hurry 
back then, and once aboard agam we feel that the raft is the 
only safe, solid place in the whole world. 

Inside the cosy shack, this feeling of security is particularly 
strong. The green leaves and banana fronds above yellow 
' bamboo walls have the most amazing psychological effect on 
us. It is as if we were crawhng from the sea far inland, to a 
typical dwelling in the jungle. The noise of the ocean seems 
weirdly out of place. 

During the daytime Herman Watzinger tests neiv ty^pes of 
emergency and rescue equipment and sends meteorological 
observations by radio twice a day. Elnut Haugland and Torstein 
balance atop the mast, trying new types of directive antenns. 
^Vith six transmitters they contact all parts of the Umted States, 
Canada, Panama, Peru, Austraha, New Zealand and Hawaii. 

July g. After 75 days at sea our raft has now drifted 3,400 
nautical miles westward from Peru. We have only 488 miles to 
go before reaching our first possible landfall in the Marquesas. 
Though it is too early to draw final conclusions from our 
experiences, we have made some interesting observations. 

A premeditated voyage by prehistoric Peruvians would allow 



6 


reader’s digest omnibus 

them to carry sufficient sweet potatoes and dried food to take 
them to 'Polynesia. We have potatoes, gourds and coconuts 
exposed to weather in Peruvian baskets on the foredeck. 

We have encountered several severe storms, and had a few 
anxious moments, but our balsa raft has proved seaworthy. It is 
known that early South American craftsmen carried their water 
supply in bamboo canes wth the little hole in the end plugged 
up. Although our main water supply was in five-gallon tins, we 
have such canes on board. Thirty fit easily^side by side under 
the plaited bamboo deck. There the shade and constant over- 
wash keep them at exact sea temperature. The water supply 
could also be renewed from rainwater gathered at sea. 

A prehistoric balsa raft venturing too far from shore during 
an ocean fishing expedition would have been trapped by the 
constant offshore wnd and the Humboldt Current and would 
inevitably have started its helpless voyage in the same semi- 
circle we follow. Any starvation among these prehistoric fisher- 
men seems incredible, as fl^nng fish land on our raft every night 
and edible crabs can be picked off the logs. 

July 15. In the ten weeks that we have drifted 3,478 miles, 
we have conducted numerous experiments for the British and 
American governments. One of the most interesting of these is 
to find out the nutritive qualities of plankton. 

Plankton is a collective name for the myriad tiny living 
creatures which inhabit the ocean. Some are visible to the naked 
eye but others must be studied through a microscope. All fish 
feed on plankton or on smaller fish which cat plankton. 

At the suggestion of Dr Alexander Bajkov, formerly of the 
U.S. Army Air Forces Aero-Mcdical Laboratory, we brought 
ivith us a special cone-shaped silk net with nearly 3,000 meshes 
per square inch. Our best daily catches contain from five to ten 
pounds of tiny shrimp-like copepods, miniature pelagic crabs 
and other crustaceans as well as eggs and larvse. If the catch is 
mostly made up of copepods, the plankton tastes like shrimp 
paste- If the net yields mostly eggs, the plankton tastes like 
caviar or oj'stcrs. Four members of our expedition have found 
plankton a great delicacy. The others do not like any sea-food. 

"We have found that a freshwater supply can be considerably 
eked out by adding scaw'atcr. On hot days with the body using 
more salt than it usually does, we have added up to 40 per cent 



OUR FOUR MONTHS ON AN OCEAN RAFT 7 

seawater to our drinking water and have found the hquid 
thirst-quenching and not uncomfortable. 

^Ve feel that these t^vo tests, while not conclusive, indicate a 
much greater chance for sumval among shipweck \'ictims. 
Any stranded group, if equipped with a plankton net and a tiny 
seawater evaporator - whose output can be extended by addmg 
a small quantity of seawater - can prolong hfe. 

July 30. At daivTi today we sighted land. It was the island of 
Fukapuka, one of the easternmost atolls of the Tuamotu group. 

Strong side ivmds were dmang us at right angles to the 
island. ^Ve couldn’t turn the raft into the tvind but sailed some 
seven miles south of the island. 

■\Ve are keeping a constant look-out for land which can arrest 
the Kon-Tikt's ivestward drift. Meanwhile, six coconuts are now 
sprouting green leaves, a calabash and our last potato are 
waiting to be planted on the soil of Pol>Tiesia as the followers of 
Tiki planted the remainder of their supphes about the year 400. 

August 3. Early this mormng the long, low island of Amgatu 
emerged on the western honzon Just before sunset w’e reached 
the island’s south coast and discovered a native village set amid 
towering trees. The beach was soon full of Polynesians w'ho 
stared in amazement. We saw them launch a canoe and watched 
as it came through a narrow opening m the coral reef. 

Two Polynesians came aboard, embraced us all and wished 
us a hearty welcome in their native tongue. These were the 
first people we had seen in 97 days and 4,100 miles of drifting. 

A fresh offshore breeze came up, and we took our sail doivn. 
Then the six of us piled into the canoe and paddled into shallower 
water, looking for an anchorage The wind increased. More 
canoes came out as the natives tried to stop our drift. We fought 
the rising wind for three hours, but it was useless 

We had to terminate the merry party and send our fine 
Polynesian friends ashore. \Mien they got there they ht huge 
bonfires on their highest hills to gmde us westwards as we raised 
our sail. 

August 7. The Kon-Tiki is on Raroia Reef, Tuamotu Archi- 
pelago, the crew safe. This marks the conclusion - and, as such, 
the success - of our expedition. 

After three days of trying to get round long, low Raroia Reef, 
we were finally drawn in among the coral rocks. The whole 



8 


reader’s digest omnibus 

horizon ahead of us, from end to end, was covered with an 
unbroken line of breakers and reefs. 

As we drew close to the breakers, all hands were briefed on 
landing procedure. Only after the raft had washed through the 
heaviest surf- and into the minor breakers beyond the first 
line — should anyone think of leaving. We secured our important 
documents in a waterproof lashing and closed down the radio. 

Suddenly the raft was lifted high in the air, then dropped into 
a hollow between big waves. Everyone headed for the high 
spots: Haugland, Danielsson and Watzinger held to the roof of 
the bamboo hut, Raaby climbed the sail block and I went up 
the mast. We had no sooner got there than a great wall of 
water hit us. The men below me later reported that the water 
towered 15 feet over my head -and I was atop the mast- 
before it engulfed the raft. 

Then there was a big crash. We had struck the reef. A giant 
comber threw us into the calmer water beyond. Succeeding wash 
from spent breakers pushed us slowly over the hard coral bottom. 

lATien we were 600 yards from the beach we waded along the 
reef and carried our gear ashore. Small four-foot sharks left us 
alone, but eight large, poisonous eels attacked Hesselberg and 
Watzinger. The men repelled them with a machete. 

August 12. Our little, low island, 150 yards in diameter, is 
inhabited only by hermit crabs, lizards and sea birds. The 
island is covered •with coconut palms and pleasant shrubs and 
surrounded by a yellow coral beach. Our water supply is 
diminishing, but there is rain every night and an unlimited 
supply of coconut milk. Many varieties of fish and sea-food are 
easily caught on the reef and our sail provides shelter between 
palms. 

August 18. Our expedition has been found by Polynesians, 
who have moved us in their canoes to an island containing 120 
hospitable natives. 

A high tide and strong seas have washed the raft over the reef 
and into the lagoon. We have spheed the mast and plan to sail 
the raft here to the native village. 

As I ^vrite this, word comes that a small French naval craft, 
the Tamara, is coming into sight. This is the ship sent by the 
Governor-General of French Oceania to take us to Tahiti. 

August 20. The name ‘Varoa Tikaroe’ was given to me last 



MY EYES HAVE A COLD NOSE 9 

night by the Polynesian natives in a special ceremony. They 
have given us all names of men who, in their legends, were the 
first to come here. These navigators were descendants of Maui 
Tiki Tiki who came to their island from ‘The Land where the 
Sun Rose in the Mormng.’ 

The Tamara journeyed across the lagoon and took the Kon- 
Tikt raft in tow, bringing it here to the village Tomorrow, the 
Tamara, inth the six of us aboard and the raft in tow, isiU leave 
for Tahiti - the first stage of our long tnp back to Norway. 

‘IMS' 

MY EYES HAVE A GOLD NOSE 

Condensed from SuTvq> Mtdmonthly 
HECTOR GHEVIGNY 

I MET my eyes some weeks ago. We were formally introduced 
‘at the Seemg Eye establishment m Momstoivn, New Jersey, to 
which I had just come for the month of traimng in the use of a 
guide dog. My eyes acknowledged the introduction with the 
kind of snort made only by a fiiendly male boxer and the touch 
of a very cold and very broad nose. "WTien told that his name 
was ‘‘Wizard’, I said, not too cleverly, ‘I hope it fits.’ 

Four months before, my vision was as good as anyone’s. Then 
suddenly my refanas began to detach from their proper position. 
The surgeons did their best, but I was discharged after three 
months as totally and permanently bhnd. 

I had been a ifiicult patient. Yourfnends tell you, soothingly, 
that everything is going to be all right, but you know that 
everything isn’t gomg to be 2iU right if you don’t do somethmg 
to make it so. 

I was more fortunate than most in my predicament; I had 
been a ivriter for 15 years, a profession that does not depend 
absolutely on vision. I had lost neither my skill nor my know- 
ledge. A good secretary could furnish the connection betiveen 
these and the page. There remained the problem of mobility. 
The greatest burden of the blind is often the complete dependence 
for movement upon the goodwill of others, 

First puilishei tn 'IT* Reaia’s DtgcsP m 1944 



lo reader's digest omnibus 

Therefore I needed no urging to consider getting a guide dog. 
Before I left the Infirmary, my application had been entered at 
Seeing Eye, Inc., and their representative had called on me. 
But this does not imply that I was altogether easy in my mind 
about the efficacy of the dog as the full answer to my problem. 
It seemed incredible that anyone would dare try crossing, say, 
Lexington Avenue in New York City at high noon with only a 
small animal to guide him. 

I was familiar enough ivith the story of Seeing Eye beginning 
hardly two decades ago at Mrs Dorothy Eustis’ estate in Switzer- 
land and with its i6 years of existence in the United States. I 
was willing to grant that a dog was the nearest substitute for 
sight. Trouble was, I had perhaps heard too much. Anything 
having to do with dogs seems to invite the fabulous touch, and I 
reserved judgment until the day my dog and I would try that 
first crossing of Lexington Avenue. I had had dogs and loved 
them, but even how to break one of chasing cars or teaching one 
to do anything more useful than bringing home the paper had 
been beyond me. 

I needn’t have been so sceptical. Now, although Wizard has 
his off days when he would rather take a bus than walk in the 
ram, and so informs me by plain baulking, usually he takes me 
wherever I want to go. I walk from my home to Fifth Avenue, 
crossing Lexington, Park and Madison, as safely as I ever did 
and twice as frequently. Because Wizard needs exercise, I get 
out more often than I used to. Special legislation in New York 
State permits us to go together on all transportation systems. 
The public is stubbornly of the opinion that I am going to get 
_ killed in revolving doors, and I always have to explain to 
someone that I’m not. 

We go to restaurants for lunch or dinner. When I am seated. 
Wizard doivns obediently at my feet. Occasionally head waiters 
are outraged at the very thought of a dog. At such times 
“Wizard and I do not bother to explain that Seeing Eye has 
taken special pains to show us how to behave at table; we don’t 
argue because other restaurants arc glad to have us. 

^Ve attract a great deal of attention, but AVizard and I are a 
couple of hams and we love it. He weighs a little over 6o pounds, 
has a sort of brindle coat — they tell me - and a euriously black, 
wrinkled face. He has a habit of keeping his tongue lolled out 



MY EYES HAVE A COED KOSE IT 

and exposing his teeth in a way that quickly clears the path for 
us. His ferocious appearance behes his character, though I 
have never heard him bark He is asensitive creature, susceptible 
to moods, and I have to be bright and cheerful with him, or he 
gets worried about me. INTien he isn’t cheerful I worry about 
him, so we are well matched They have an apt phrase at Seeing 
Eye: the dog doesn’t belong to you, you belong to the dog. 

The dogs are not only ‘trained’ to work for the blind, they 
must be persuaded. And they have to be kept persuaded. 

Snow lay on the ground the February day I enrolled with 15 
other blind from all parts of the United States Two of them 
were seniice men, four were women. Three were returning after 
years for their second or third dogs. We were divided into two 
groups, each wth its instructor. 

I was taken upstairs to the comfortable room I would share 
■with another, told where to hang my clothes, shown the bath- 
room, the recreation room and the way to the dimng hall. After 
that I was expected to find things for m^'self. If you lose a sock 
or a shoe you can ask someone to help you find it, but you must 
make you own search first. You butter your own bread, cut 
your own meat; if you complain that you have never done these 
things before, you are told it’s about time you started. 

No one can give, a man independence, he must find it for 
Mmself. This is part of the philosophy of Seemg Eye. Every 
important member of the staff has spent at least one month 
living the hfe of a blind person, his ■vision cut off by a close- 
fitting black mask, until he, too, knows ivhat it is to be without 
sight Sympathy, therefore, is not excluded but pity is. 

We found this atmosphere curiously refreshing. The staff 
treated us as complete equals, and it was a ivelcome relief after 
the condolences of relatives and friends. I had thought the rule 
a silly one that visitors could see us for only two hours on 
Saturdays and Sundays I hadn’t counted on going mto retreat, 
too. But the inept touch of the public, ivhich so often destroj-s 
self-confidence, has to be excluded. For Seemg Eye trains not 
only dogs but people. 

The sum total of bad bodily habits brought by indhaduals to 
Seeing Eye is often forbiddingly large. They are taught not 
merely how to walk in confidence with the dog but to walk 
freely, rapidly and with grace and strength. The student’s voice 



12 


reader’s digest omnibus 

sometimes needs training, for it is the medium of communica- 
tion between dog and master; habitual grufihess, too much 
variation of mood expressed in tone, must be corrected. 

My first day as a student I spent attending lectures by the 
chief instructor, William Debetaz, who is the living link wth the 
original work in Switzerland. The next day I met Wizard and 
my seven classmates were assigned their own dogs. Four were 
German shepherds, two were Labrador retrievers, and I had 
one of two boxers. 

We spent two days getting acquainted with our dogs. Our 
reactions varied with our temperaments and experience. Four of 
the students had never had do^ before and were unsure of them- 
selves. The rest of us petted and praised om* dogs extravagantly. 
Each man was sure he had the pick of the class. 

Wizard and the other dogs had just gone through some three 
months’ training wth our instructor. He had learned to walk in 
the light harness wth the U-shaped handle, pause at kerbs, stop 
for passing automobiles, and pay no attention to lamp-posts. He 
had also conceived a passionate adoration for the instructor. 

On the fourth day when we first tried walking with our dogs 
in harness on the streets of Morristown, Wizard trotted beside 
me amiably enough, responding to the ten words used in com- 
mand. But it soon became apparent that he was co-operating 
because ordered to do so by the instructor. As if I hadn’t enough 
to do, it now da^vned on me that I also had to show this dog I 
was the more desuable master. The fact that I fed and watered 
him didn’t fool him a bit. 

The instructor assured me that a definite day would come 
when Wizard would show himself my dog. The instructor would 
recognise that moment because Wizard would no longer be 
doing by rote what he had been trained to do but would be 
actively on guard for my safety, leading me round puddles, 
keeping me from hitting lamp-posts and letter-boxes. This rap- 
port between student and dog usually took about three weeks. 
Sometimes it never takes place, and then the student has failed. 

Life was strenuous at Seeing Eye. We got up at 5.45 to take 
the dogs outdoors for kerbing. The hearty breakfast served at 
seven was welcome. By eight we were on the streets practising, 
our instructor taking us in pairs wth our dogs. Then lunch. "We 
always took our dogs to table as part of their training. They 



MY EYES HAVE A GOLD NOSE 


13 


were supposed to lie perfectly still. But with 16 dogs in one 
duung hall, sudden eruptions were excitingly frequent At one, 
we were back in the streets. Our day ended with the last visit 
of the dogs outdoors at eight. 

With all those dogs tethered to our beds, things happened at 
night, too. A couple of them had the notion they were on some 
kmd of guard duty and had to be cured of barking every time 
anyone moved. The instructor got even less sleep than we did. 
There was ahvays some student waking him because (a) the 
bed chain had broken and his dog was nowhere to be found, 
{b) his dog w’as on the bed and wouldn’t let him get back 
into it, or (c) another job of housebreaking had to be done. 

After spending a month at Seeing Eye, I can never subscribe 
to the belief that dogs don’t think, if thought means the pow'er to 
form judgments and retain memories Dogs can become aware 
of responsibihty and reason ivdth this aw'areness as a basis 

However, certain breeds, with the exception of rare indi- 
viduals, can simply never be trained fiir Seemg Eye w'ork The 
poodle IS one. He can be taught everythmg a gmde dog must 
know except one thing; responsibihty for the master. Let him 
bring his blmd master to the brink of, say, an open pavement 
elevator, and he ivill not disobey the order to go fonvard, or 
attempt to lead his meister around the danger. He ivill take the 
order hterally and jump it. 

Pure blood, incidentally, is not one of Seeing Eye’s norms; 
many a dog ivith a questionable grandfather makes the grade. 
InteUigence ranks high among the specifications, but, curiously, 
some dogs have altogether too much intelligence. After a week 
or two of training, such a dog evidently deades that this is too 
much like work and spends more time devising ways of getting 
out of his contract than of fulfilling it. The dogs w'ho achieve the 
highest ratings are those who have intelligence tempered with a 
dog’s version of social consciousness. 

It has often been asked if Seemg Eye dogs actually realise 
their masters cannot see. The staff w'ell knows that the dogs 
recognise the blind. As they lie sprawied in the recreation room, 
they don’t change position when a sighted person steps close to 
them. But let a bhnd person approach and they pull their paws 
to safety or silently find another spot. 

^^^len "Wfizard made the discovery that I could not see, it 



14 reader’s digest omnibus 

meant he could play all kinds of tricks on me. He observed that I 
did not know when I was at the end of a street until I touched 
the kerb. So he would turn me neatly at a corner before taking 
me to the kerb, thus deflecting me to the warmth of the bus 
station, or towards the automobile in which we had come from 
the school, thus saving himself further practice. 

^Vizard’s tricks marked a crucial point in my own training. 
Until now his attitude had been one of indifference. My class- 
mates began having the same trouble, and we were disappointed 
and gloomy. The instructor knew what was happening, how- 
ever. The time had come to administer discipline. Until then, 
we had not been allowed to use more than a mild, verbal 
reproof, although we were expected to give loud and extrava- 
gant praise when the dog did his job correctly. Now we were 
taught the word w'hich is universally used in dog training as the 
sign of disapproval - the German expression sharply 

pronounced - and to give it authority by an expert tug on the 
leash. This was not punishment. Dogs are never punished; they 
are corrected. The correction must come instantly upon the 
realisation by the master that the dog is doing something %vrong, 
and when the dog resumes doing things the correct way the 
praise must be unmistakable- 

What makes the dog finally decide to assume full responsi- 
bility seems to be beyond human understanding. He will go to 
sleep under his master’s bed at Seeing Eye one night without it 
and the next morning awaken tvith it. From that point on the 
master is safe. He can cross any street or proceed up the most 
crowded pavement with assurance. His period of traimng, except 
for a few technical pointers, is over. He is ready to go home. 

Graduation at Seeing Eye is casual. There are no diplomas. 
We go to the Executive Offices to pay our bill, though. Now i\e 
meet a last manifestation of Seeing Eye’s philosophy ofsympathy 
without pity. Our dogs might as well be given to us for nothing, 
the discrepancy is so great between \vhat they have cost and 
what we will pay. The cost is six or seven times what we will be 
charged, but we are told only the price to us: $150. The men 
w’ho come for their second or third dogs pay $50. The cost to 
seiv'iccmcn is $1. 

AVuard is now- mv dog, or rather I am ^Vizard’s man, but I 
can’t say I am any hero to him. He insists upon regular meal- 



LONDON NOCTURNE 


15 

times, and when I stay overlong on visits he doesn’t hesitate to 
let me know that we should be going "WTien my temper flares 
he just sits on his broad bottom unDl it blo^\’S over. For some 
unfathomable reason he loves bars and is not helping my 
reputation by occasionally turning into one without an order 
from me 

The other day I was at an advertising agency discussing the 
probabihty of doing a certain radio script which, as we say in 
the business, was very commercial. ^V^zard lay quietly beside 
me on the floor, as he had been trained to do, for as long as he 
could, then got up, stretched, walked to a corner and un- 
obtrusively threw up. His air indicated that although he was 
responsible for me he didn’t have to like my matenal. 

People still try to help us cross the street and we thank them 
politely. But I don’t need their help any more. For ^Vlzard has 
given me back the thing I value most - my independence. 

The big burden of our hves is that everybody kind of expects 
us to do tricks I am supposed to have learned something about 
dog training Then why can’t I teach ^Vlzard to do things like 
walking erect and shaking hands’ It’s a simple principle, I am 
told; It rests upon the supenonty of the human mind over the 
animal. I tried to apply that principle I didn’t succeed in 
teaching "Wizard any tncks, but how would you like to see me 
scratch my right ear with my left hind foot’ 

LONDON NOCTURNE 

Condensed from The English-Speaking World 
DON STANFORD 

I’d had dinner ivith some English acquaintances, and shortly 
before midnight I’d taken a taxi back to my hotel \\ hen I got 
out I stood fumbling w'lth a handful of unfamiliar English 
money, trying to compute the proper tip 

The driver, a pleasant-looking old fellow with an intelligent 
face and a quizzical eye, asked if I was an Amencan When I 

Fira pubJuhei m ‘Tke Seaitfs Dtiesf «n 1951 



l6 reader’s digest OMNIBDS 

admitted I was, he asked me what I did for living. I told him 
I was a %vriter. My cabby ivas interested: he wanted to know 
what I thought of London. 

I told him that I was delighted and fascinated with what I’d 
seen, alAough that hadn’t included many of the things one is 
supposed to see; but I’d poked around a good deal, and — 

‘You see things, then,’ he said, and his face brightened. ‘You 
don’t just look at ’em, to be able to say you’ve seen ’em. Have 
you been to St. Paul’s, sir?! ' 

No, I said. I’d had only a few days to spend and I’d hoped to 
find something more interesting than the things listed in a 
guide-book. He,cut in on my explanation and said firmly, ‘Now 
you just ’op back in the cab, sir, and let me take you around a 
bit. There’s some things you’d ought to see.’ 

I hesitated. He saw my reluctance, and said in the same firm 
but polite tone, ‘You’re not to look at the meter, sir. Please don’t 
offer to pay me. There’s things you can’t pay for, as you well 
know, sir.’ 

I ’opped back into his ancient and slightly sway-backcd cab 
and off we ambled at a sedate 15 miles an hour. It was a clear 
night and the moon was nearly full. I leaned forward in my seat 
to hear the driver’s quiet comments. 

‘Now ’op out, sir,’ he commanded every few minutes, climb- 
ing down from his seat to come around and stand beside me as I 
obediently ’opped out to look. I soon discovered that this was no 
ordinary cab driver; this was an intensely interested authority 
on London, an inexhaustible source of historical information. 

We stood and we looked at St. Paul’s Ca'thedral, whose 
majesty and grace rose miraculously from the surrounding acres 
of rubble of bombed buildings. My cabby spoke of the cathedral 
— wth reverence and affection and possessive pride - as ‘ she’. 

‘All around her fell, sir,’ he said softly, ‘but there she stands. 
Under her Dean’s aisle lies Sir Christopher Wren, who built her- 
An artist, sir. His house stood just over there’ — the cabby 
pointed across the rubble - ‘where he could open his eyes and 
see her, first thing, every morning of his life.’ 

^Ve hopped out and stood on a bridge over the Thames, and 
while the w'ater lapped gently against the side of a freighter 
moored just below us my cabby pointed out the route over 
which the \Vaterman’s Race had been rowed the w'eek before. 



LONDON NOCTURNE 


1/ 

and told the story of Doggett’s Ckjat and Badge for which the 
watermen of London have been rowing their aimual race for 
centuries. 

We stopped the venerable taxi in Farnngdon Street and 
strolled into Modem Court, a blank square opening off a 
narrow alley, dark and deserted at three o’clock in the morning. 



It seemed an undistinguished court walled m by ivarehouses 
until the old cabby said softly, ‘Look over there at the Old 
Bailey, sir. It’s a good quarter mile off. It does you queer, like.’ 

He pointed. I looked, and it did me queer, hke, too. For there 
was no intenor and no roof to the blank warehouse at the end 
of the court, and framed m exquisite perfection m one of its 
empty third-storey lyrndows, hmned m moonlight, stood the 
Statue of Justice, holding out her scales. 

A few blocks away, across the rubble, my guide pointed to a 
flimsy wooden sign . ‘Here stood the Liver^' Hall of the ^Vorship- 
ful Company of Cordwainers, first mentioned in 1440. Destroyed 
by enemy action in May, 1941.’ 



r8 


reader’s digest omnibus 

‘Five hundred years of history,’ my cabby said quietly. ‘^Vcll, 
’op in, sir, and let’s be off.’ 

We ended up at 4.30 in Covent Garden, watching the market 
come to life as the countryfolk amved wth their produce. 

Under prodding, my cabby told me about himself. ‘London’s 
my livelihood, sir. And my hobby and my love, you might say. 
I’m 70, sir. I’ve read all I can, and I had to ride a bicycle a 
thousand miles about the city before they’d let me take my cab 
out.’ 

Then he said eagerly, ‘I’ve a friend, sir, a photographer. “We 
take a day off, when we can afford it, and we take the cab - 
the company gets five-eighths of what’s on the meter, and the 
rest is my wages - and we ride about all day, or all night, and 
we pay the five-eighths. We see a great deal, we do. It takes a 
bit of the curse off driving tourists about - people that don’t 
really see anything, or care, but want only to look and say 
they’ve seen, when they get back home. I hke to pick someone 
like yourself, once in a while, and show him. . . .* 

London taxicabs are not expensive, and I don’t see how my 
friend could have earned more than a week. The meter read 
nearly ;i(^2 now, and if I gave him all I had I wouldn’t be paying 
for what he’d given me. 

I looked at him, and he smiled a little, and shook his head. 
‘Remember what I told you, sir,’ he said, ‘and though what 
you’re thinking does you credit, don’t be spoiling it, now. This 
has done me good, too, and I’d like to keep the good of it.’ 

Some day I hope I’ll be able to do something that will please 
him a little, in return for the four hours which moved me so 
deeply. One thing especially that I’ll always remember is some- 
thing the old man said as we stood on London Bridge, leaning 
on the rail and gazing at the Thames below. He asked me what 
New York was like and I tried my best to tell him. I described 
the Hudson, so much bigger than the tiny Thames, and the 
great clean sweep of the George ^Vashington Bridge; the soaring 
height of Radio City; the sounds, smells and frenetic activity 
of the city. When I had finished he was silent for a long moment, 
tiy'ing to risualise the city he had never seen and never would 
see, and weighing what he had heard against what he kneiv of 
his own city. 

Finally he said, very quietly, ‘New York, sir, must be a monu- 



THE DAY WE FLEW THE KITES ig 

ment to man’s ingenuity, indeed.’ He paused, and then added 
softly, ‘But London’ - and there was quiet pride in his voice, 
and satisfaction, and all the love he felt for his city and the 
people who had built it - ‘London, sir, is a monument to Man.’ 

THE DAY WE FLEW THE KITES 

Condensed from Parents' Magazine 
FRANCES FOWLER 

‘String I’ shouted Brother, bursting into the kitchen. ‘\Ve 
need lots more string.’ 

It was Saturday. As alw avs, it v as a busy one, for ‘Six daj's 
shall thou labour and do all thy work’ was taken seriously then. 
Outside, Father and hlr Patrick next door were doing chores 

Inside the tw'o houses, Mother and Mrs Patnek were engaged 
in spring cleaning Such a windy March day was ideal for 
‘turning out’ clothes-closets Already w’oollens flapped on back- 
yard clothes-lines 

Somehow the boys had slipped away to the back lot wth 
their kites. Now, even at the risk of having Brother impounded 
to beat carpets, they had sent him for more string. Apparently 
there w’as no limit to the heights to which kites would soar 
today. 

My mother looked out of the window. The sky was piercingly 
blue; the breeze fresh and exciting Up in all that blueness 
sailed great puffy billows of clouds. It had been a long, hard 
■winter, but today was spnng. 

Mother looked at the sitting-room, its furniture disordered 
for a Spartan sweeping. Again her eyes w'avered towards the 
window. ‘Gome on, girls' Let’s take string to the bojs and W’atch 
them fly the kites a imnute.’ 

On the W'ay we met hirs Patrick, laughing guiltily, escorted 
by her girls. 

There never was such a day for fl>ing kites' God doesn’t make 
two such days in a century. ^Ve played all our fresh twine into 

Ftra pulitsked in ReaJer*s DtgaT tn 1949 



20 reader’s digest omnibus 

the boys’ kites and still they soared. We could hardly distinguish 
the tiny, orange-coloured specks. Now and then we slowly 
reeled one in, finally bringing it dipping and tugging to earth, 
for the sheer joy of sending it up again. WTiat a thrill to run 
%vith them, to the right, to the left, and seeourpoor, earth-bound 
movements reflected minutes later in the majestic sky-dance of 
the kites! ^Ve wrote svishes on slips of paper and shppcd them 
over the string. Slowly, irresistibly, they climbed up until they 
reached the kites. Surely all such wishes would be granted! 

Even our fathers dropped hoc and hammer and joined us. 
Our mothers took their turn, laughing like schoolgirls. Their 
hair blew out of their pompadours and curled loose about their 
cheeks; their gingham aprons whipped about their legs. Mingled 
with our fun was something akin to awe. The grown-ups were 
really playing \vith us! Once I looked at Mother and thought 
she looked actually pretty. And her over forty! 

^Ve never knew where the hours went on that hill-top day. 
There were no hours, just a golden, breezy Now. I think we 
were all a little beyond ourselves. Parents forgot their duty and 
their dignity; children forget their combativeness and small 
spites. ‘Perhaps it’s like this in the Kingdom of Heaven,’ I 
thought confusedly. 

It was growing dark before, drunk \vith sun and air, we all 
stumbled sleepily back to the houses. I suppose we had some 
sort of supper. I suppose there must have been a surface tidyong- 
up, for the house on Simday looked decorous enough. 

The strange thing was, we didn’t mention that day afterwards. 
I felt a little embarrassed. Surely none of the others had thrilled 
to it as deeply as 1. 1 locked the memory up in that deepest part 
of me where we keep ‘the things that cannot be and yet are’. 

The years went on, then one day I was scurrying about my 
o^vn kitchen in a city apartment, trying to get some work out 
of the way while my three-year-old insistently cried her desire 
to ‘go park and see ducks.’ 

‘I can't go!’ I said. ‘I have this and this to do, and when I’m 
through rU be too tired to walk that far.’ 

My mother, who was visiting us, looked up from the peas she 
was shelling. ‘It’s a wonderful day,* she ofiered, ‘really warm, 
yet there’s a fine fresh breeze. It reminds me of that day we 
flew' the kites.* 



AN OPEN LETTER TO AMERICA'S STUDENTS 21 

I Stopped m my dash between stove and smk. The locked door 
flew-^ open, and with it a gush of memories. I pulled off my apron 
‘Come on,’ I told my httle girl ‘You re nght, it's too good a 
day to miss ’ 

Another decade passed. We were m the aftermath of a great 
war. All evemng we had been asking our returned soldier, the 
young^t Patrick boy, about his experiences as a prisoner of war. 
He had talked freely, but noiv for a long time he had been 
silent. ^\Tiat was he thinking of- 1\ hat dark and dreadful thin gs^ 

‘Sayt’ A smile tivitched his hps. ‘Do you remember . . no, of 
course you wouldn’t. It probably didn’t make the impression 
on you it did on me.’ 

I hardly dared speak ‘Remember what?’ 

‘I used to think of that day a lot in PW camp, when things 
w’eren’t too good. Do you remember the day we flew the kites’’ 

"Wmter came, and the sad duty of a call of condolence on 
Mrs Patrick, recently widowed I dreaded the call. I couldn’t 
imagme hoiv Mrs Patnck w’ould face life alone. 

IVe talked a httle of my family and her grandchildren and the 
changes in the town. Then she w^as silent, looking doivn at her 
lap. I cleared my throat. Now I must say somethmg about her 
loss, and she would begm to cry. 

INTien she looked up, Mrs Patnck was smiling. ‘I w’as just 
sittmg here thmkmg,’ she said. ‘Henry had such fun that day. 
Frances, do you remember the day w'e flew the kites’’ 




AN OPEN LETTER TO 
AMERICA’S STUDENTS 

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER 

I RECEIVE many letters from young people. Mostly they ask a 
question that could be put like this . 

Shall I keep on WTtli school’ Or shall I plunge nght off mto 
‘life’’ 

I try to answ'er these letters according to the circumstances 

First puhlis>ed sn *Thc D j/sf in 194S 

B 


22 


reader’s digest omnibus 

of each case. But I sometimes feel that I would like to try to 
write a general answer to the whole general problem of ‘school’ 
. versus ‘life’ in the minds of my correspondents. I think I would 
say: 

Dear Jack - or Margaret: You say you wonder if it is worth 
while for you to go on \vith high school. You particularly 
wonder if it is worth while to enter and finish college. The 
tedium of study, nose buned in books, seems a waste of time 
compared with a job and the stimulus of productive work. You 
say you hate to bother me with this ‘trifling’ problem of 
yours. 

It is not a trifling problem at all. Your decision wll aficct 
your whole life; similar decisions by millions of other young 
Americans will zfTcct the total life of our country. And I know 
how deeply it must worry you. It worried me and a lot of my 
schoolmates when I was your age. 

In a small Kansas town, 40 years ago, a reasonably strong 
case could be put up in favour of leaving school early. Outside 
those few who could afford to pick a profesion, most of us knew 
our lives would be spent on the farm, or in one of the local 
stores, or at the creamery or grain elevator. 

We could be good farmers, good storekeepers, good mill 
hands, without much book learning. The quickest road to 
practical knowledge was to do. That w^as the way we might 
have argued ; and we would have been nght if there were no 
more to successful living than ploughing a straight furrow, 
wrapping a neat package, keeping a machine well oiled. 

Fortunately, we came of stock that set the school on the same 
plane as the home and church. The value of education, above 
and beyond the immediate return in dollars and cents, had 
been bred into us. Our families stinted themselves to keep us in 
school a while longer; and most of us worked, and w'orked hard, 
to prolong that while. 

Today the business of living is far more complex than it w'as 
in my boyhood. No one of us can hope to comprehend all its 
complexity in a lifetime of study. But each day profitably spent 
in school will help you understand better your personal 
relationship to country' and world. If your generation fails to 
understand that the human individu^ is still the centre of 



AN OPEN LETTER TO AMERICA’S STUDENTS 23 

the universe and is still the sole reason for the existence 
of all man-made institutions, then complexity istU become 
chaos. 

Consequently, I feel firmly that you should continue your 
schooling - if you can - right to the end of high school and right 
to the end of college. You say you are ‘not too good at books’. 



But from books - under the guidance of your teachers - you 
can get a grasp on the thing that you most ought to understand 
before you go to work. 

It is expressed in a moiing letter I got the other day from a 
young girl half-way through high school. She said that in her 
studies she seemed to be a failure all along the line, alwavs 
trailing everyone else. But then she ended by saying: ‘I still 
think I could learn to be a good American.’ 

That’s the vital point. School, of course, should train you'in 
the two great basic tools of the mind: the use of words and the 
use of numbers. And school can properly' give you a start 
tow’ards the special skills you may need in the trade or business 
or profession you may plan to enter. But remember: 

As soon as you enter it, you wtU be strongly tempted to fall 
into the rut and routine of it You will be strongly tempted to 
become just a part of an occupation which is just one part of 
America. In school - from books - from teachers - from fellow 
students - you can get a \’iew of the whole of Amenca, how it 
started, how it grew, w’hat it is, what it means. Each day ivill 



24 reader’s digest omnibus 

add breadth to your view and a sharper comprehension of your 
own role as an American. 

I feel sure I am right when I tell you : 

To develop fully your own character you must know your country's 
character. 

A plant partakes of the character of the soil in which it grows. 
You are a plant that is conscious ^ that thinks. You must study your 
soil - which is your country - in order that you may be able to 
draw its strength up into your own strength. 

It will pay you to do so. You will understand your owm 
problems better and solve them more easily, if you have studied 
America’s problems and done something towards their solution. 

Never forget that self-interest and patriotism go together. You 
have to look out for yourself) and you have to look out for your 
country. Self-interest and patriotism, rightly considered, are 
not contradictory ideas. They are partners. 

The very earth of our country is gradually getting lost to us. 
One-third of the fertile top layer of our soil has already been 
washed away into rivers and the sea. This must be stopped, or 
some day our country \vill be too barren to yield us a living. 
That is one national problem crying for solution; it affects you 
directly and decisively. 

In our cities there are millions of people who have little 
between them and hunger except a daily job, which they may 
lose. They demand more ‘security’. If they feel too insecure, 
their discontent might some day undermine joar security, no 
matter how personally successfiil you might be in your oivn 
working life. That’s another problem — and there are innumer- 
able others - w'hose solution requires the thought and goodwill 
of every American. 

I cannot put it to you too strongly - or too often - that it is 
to your practical advantage to learn America’s character and 
problems, in the broadest possible way, and to help to bring 
those problems to their solutions. 

It is dangerous to assume that our countr>’’s welfare belongs 
alone to that mysterious mechanism called ‘the government’. 
Every time w'e ^low or force the government, because of our 
own indi^idual or local failures, to take over a question that 
properly belongs to us, by that much we surrender our indi- 
vidual responsibility, and wth it a comparable amount of 


AN OPEN LETTER TO AMERICA’S STUDENTS 25 

indi\Tdual freedom. But the very core of ^vhat we mean by 
Americamsm is mdi\ddual liberty foimded on mdiMduzd 
responsibility, equdity before the law, and a system of private 
enterprise that aims at reward accord^g to merit. 

These things are basic - your years in school ^vTll help you to 
apply these truths to the busmess of livmg in a free democracy. 

Yours IS a countcj-- of free men and women, where personal 
liberty is cherished as a fundamental right But the price of its 
contmued possession is untirmg alertness. Liberty is easily lost. 
"Witness the history of the past 20 years. Even the natural 
enthusiasm of warm youthful hearts for a leader can be a 
menace to liberty. 

It was movements of misguided young people, under the 
influence of older and more cynical xmnds, that proinded the 
physical force to make Mussolim the tyrant of Italy and Hitler 
the tyrant of Germany. Mussolim’s street song was ‘Gionnezzfl* — 
‘Youth’. Hitler based his power most firmly on the Hiller 
Jugend - the Hitler Youth. 

Never let yourself be persuaded that any one Great Man, 
any one leader, is necessary to the salvation of Amenca. WTicn 
America consists of one leader and 143,000,000 followers^ it uill 
no longer be Amenca. Truly American leadership is not of any 
one man. It is of multitudes of men — and ivomen. 

The last war was not won by one man or a few men. It was 
won by hundreds of thousands and milhons of men and women 
of all ranks. Audacity, imtiative, the uiU to tr)' greatly and 
stubbornly characterised them. Great numbers of them, if for 
only a few nunutes in some desperate crisis of battle, were 
leaders. 

You uill find it so m the fields of peace. Amenca at uork is 
not just a few ‘Great Men’ at tlie head of government, of 
corporations, or of labour unions It is millions and millions of 
men and women who on farms and in factories and in stores 
and offices and homes are leadmg this country - and the world 
- towards better and better ways of doing and of makmg things. 
Amenca exceeds all other lands — by far - in the number of its 
leaders Any needless concentration of power is a menace to 
freedom. 

"We have the isorld’s best machines, because we ourselves are 
not machines ; because we have embraced the liberty of thinking 



26 reader’s digest omnibus 

for ourselves, of imagining for ourselves, and of acting for 
ourselves out of our own enerpes and inspirations. Our true 
strength is not in our machines, splendid as they are, but in the 
inquisitive, inventive, indomitable souls of our people. 

To be that kind of soul is open to every American boy 
and girl; and it is the one kind of career that America cannot live 
ivithout. 

To be a good American - worthy of the heritage that is yours, 
eager to pass it on enhanced and enriched - is a lifetime career, 
stimulating, sometimes exhausting, always satisfying to those 
who do their best. 

Start on it now; take part in America’s affairs while you arc 
still a student. There are responsibilities about your home, in 
your neighbourhood, that you can assume. There are activities 
about your school, or your campus, that %vill be more productive 
of good by your contribution. 

Don’t think that you are too young. ‘Let no man despise thy 
youth,’ Paul the Apostle said to Timothy. These words apply to 
you as an American. Loyalty to principle, readiness to give of 
one’s talents to the common good, acceptance of responsibility ~ 
these are the measure of a good American, not his age in years. 

Alexander Hamilton - General Washington’s aide in war. 
President Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury in peace - 
was speaking before applauding crowds of his fellow New 
Yorkers on the political problems of the American Revolution 
when he was only 17 years old and still a student in King’s 
College, now Columbia University. The same stuff of which 
Hamilton was made is in you and all American youth today. 

But above all, while you arc still at school, try to Icam the 
‘why’ of your country. We Americans know ‘how’ to produce 
things faster and better - on the whole - than any other people. 
But what will it profit us to produce things unless we know what 
w'C are producing them for^ unless we know what purpose 
animates Amenca? 

To assure each citizen his inalienable right to life, liberty and 
the pursuit of happiness was the ‘why’ behind the establishment 
of this Republic and is today the ‘why’ for its continued 
existence. ^Vhat that means to you personally, what you must 
do towards its fulfilment, cannot be answered completely in a 
letter. But I repeat that the answer can be found in your school, 



A STRING OF BLUE BEADS 


27 


if you seek it deliberately and conscientiously. You need neither 
genius nor vast learning for its comprehension 
To be a good Amencan is the most important job that will 
ever confront you But essentially it is nothing more than being 
a good member of your community, helping those who need 
)Our help, striving for a sympathetic understanding of those 
who oppose you, doing each new da) "s job a little better than 
the previous day’s, placing the common good before personal 
profit. The American Republic was bom to assure you the 
dignity and nghts of a human indixidual If the dignitv and 
rights of > our fellow men guide your daily conduct of life, you 
iviU be a good Amencan. 


A STRING OF BLUE BEADS 

FULTON OURSLER 

Pete Richards was the loneliest man in town on the day 
Jean Grace opened his door. You may have seen something in 
the newspapers about the incident at the time it happened, 
although neither his name nor hers was pubhshed, nor i\as the 
full story told as I tell it here. 

Pete’s shop had come dowm to him from his grandfather. The 
little front window’ w’cis strewn with a disarrav of old-fashioned 
things* bracelets and lockets worn a ccntur\' ago, gold nngs and 
silver boxes, images of jade and ivory . porcelain figurines 

On this w'lnter’s afternoon a child was standing there, her 
forehead against the glass, earnest and enormous e\ cs studying 
each discarded treasure, as if she were looking for something 
quite special. Finally she straightened up with a satisfied air 
and entered the store. 

The shadowy interior of Pete Richard’s establishment w as 
even more cluttered than his show window ShcK es w ere stacked 
with jewel caskets, duelling pistols, clocks and lamps, and the 
floor was heaped with andirons and mandolins and things hard 
to find a name for. 

Behind the counter stood Pete himself, a man not more than 


Ftrti pvUuikei tn "Tie JUadet s Dtstsi in 1951 



28 reader’s digest omnibus 

30, but wth hair already turning grey. There was a bleak air 
about him as he looked at the small customer who flattened her 
ungloved hands on the counter. 

‘Mister,’ she began, ‘would you please let me look at that 
string of blue beads in the wndow?’ 

Pete parted the draperies and lifted out a necklace. The 
turquoise stones gleamed brightly against the pallor of his palm 
as he spread the ornament before her. 

‘They’re just perfect,’ said the child, entirely to herself. ‘^Vill 
you wrap them up pretty for me, please^’ 

Pete studied her wth a stony air. ‘Are you buying these for 
someone?’ 

‘They’re for my big sister. She takes care of me. You see, this 
will be the first Christmas since Mother died I’ve been looking 
for the most wonderful present for my sister.’ 

‘How much money do you have?’ asked Pete warily. 

She had been busily untying the knots in a handkerchief and 
now she poured out a handful of pennies on the counter. 

‘I emptied my bank,’ she explained simply. 

Pete ^chards looked at her thoughtfully. Then he carefully 
drew back the necklace. The price tag was visible to him but 
not to her. How could he tell her? The trusting look of her blue 
eyes smote him like the pain of an old w^ound. 

‘Just a minute,’ he said, and turned towards the back of the 
store. Over his shoulder he called, ‘'What’s your name?’ He w^as 
very busy about something. 

‘Jean Grace.’ 

^^^len Pete returned to w'here Jean Grace waited, a package 
lay in his hand, wrapped in scarlet paper and tied with a bow of 
green ribbon. ‘There you are,’ he said shortly. ‘Don’t lose it on 
the way home.’ 

She smiled happily at him over her shoulder as she ran out of 
the door. Through the window he watched her go, while desola- 
tion flooded his thoughts Something about Jean Grace and her 
string of beads had stirred him to the depths of a griefthat would 
not stay buried. The child’s hair w'as wheat yellow, her eyes sea 
blue, and once upon a time, not long before, Pete had been 
in love wth a girl with hair of that same yellow and with ey<^ 
just as blue. And the turquoise necklace w’as to have been 
hers. 



A STRING OF BLUE BEADS 20 

But there had come a ramy night - a lorry skidding on a 
slippery road - and the life was crushed out of his dream. 

Since then Pete Richards had hved too much \nth his grief 
in sohtude. He was pohtely attentive to customers, but ^ter 
business hours his world seemed irrevocably empty. He was 
trying to forget in a self-pitying haze that deepened day by day. 

The blue eyes ofjean Gracejolted himinto acute remembrance 
of what he had lost The pain of it made him recoil from the 
exuberance of hohday shoppers. During the next ten days trade 
was brisk; chattering women swarmed m, fingering trinkets, 
trying to bargain. 'WTien the last customer had gone, late on 
Christmas Eve, he sighed wth rehef. It was over for another 
year But for Pete Richards the night was not qmte over. 

The door opened and a young woman hurried in. AVith an 
inexphcable start, he realised that she looked familiar, yet he 
could not remember when or where he had seen her before. 
Her hair was golden yellow and her large eyes were blue. 
Without speaking, she drew from her purse a package loosely 
umvrapped m its red paper, a bow of green nbbon with it. 
Presently the string of blue beads lay gleammg again before him. 

‘Did this come from your shop^’ she asked. 

Pete raised his eyes to hers and answered softly, ‘Yes, 
it did.’ 

‘Are the stones reaP’ 

‘Yes But not the finest quality.* 

‘Can you remember who it ii-as you sold them to?’ 

‘She was a small girl. Her name was Jean. She bought them 
for her older sister’s Christmas present.’ 

‘How much are they worth^’ 

‘The pncc,’ he told her solemnly, ‘is alwaj's a confidential 
matter betiveen the seller and the customer.’ 

‘But Jean has never had more than a few pennies of spending 
money. How could she pay for them?’ 

Pete was folding the gay paper back into its creases, rewappmg 
the little package just as neatly as before. 

‘She paid the biggest price anyone can ever pay,’ he said. 
‘She gave all she had.’ 

There was a silence then that filled the little curio shop. In 
' some far-away steeple, a bell began to nng. The soimd of the 
distant chiming, the httlc package lying on the counter, the 



30 


reader’s digest omnibus 

question in the eyes of the girl and the strange feeling of renews al 
struggling unreasonably in the heart of the man, all had come 
to be because of the love of a child. 

‘But why did you do it?’ 

He held out the gift in his hand. 

‘It’s already Christmas morning,’ he said. ‘And it’s my mis- 
fortune that I have no one to give anything to. Will you let me 
see you home and wish you a Merry Christmas at your 
door?’ 

And so, to the sound of many bells and in the midst of happy 
people, Pete Richards and a girl whose name he had yet to 
learn walked out into the beginning of the great day that brings 
hope into the world for us all. 

A LODGING FOR THE NIGHT 

KATHARINE BRUSH 

Driving alone on a holiday trip, a certain Mr AVintringer, of 
Boston, was involved in a motor accident on a highway in 
Illinois. He came to in a hospital in a small town where he 
knew no one - or thought he knew no one. 

An account of the accident appeared in the local paper the 
following morning. That afternoon a Mrs Malcolm Convin, 
whose name he didn’t recognise, called to see him. 

‘Are you sure she asked for me?’ he said. ‘I don’t know a soul 
around here.’ The hospital people were sure, and the visitor was 
ushered in. The small boy with her was her son, Billy, she 
announced with quiet pride. ‘I thought you’d like to see him,’ 
she said, ‘and the nurse said it would be all right.’ 

‘You remember me, don’t you?’ she added, anxiously. ‘I 
remember you so well - I’ll never forget how wonderfully kind 
you were to Malcolm and me, that night in New York during 
the war. In the hotel, remember?’ 

It all came back to him then -very much to his relief, 
because her thin, young, blue-eyed face had seemed familiar to 
him only because it looked like so many thousand other faces. 

Ftn* in The HeaJft s Zhseef tn 1951 



A LODGING FOR THE NIGHT 3I 

He identified it now, however, pven the needed clues. The 
overcrowded hotel, the young lieutenant in the waiting line 
before the registration desk. 

^Vlnt^nger had checked into the hotel in the late afternoon 
and, because he often stayed there, had had no difficulty in 
obtaining a room. After leaving his bag upstairs he returned to 



the lobby to buy an afternoon paper and sat down on a lobby 
couch to read it. 

There was the usual war-time waiting line at the registration 
desk. Glanang up from time to time, Wintringer found himself 
becoming interested in the fortunes of the youngest of the 
numerous Army officers in the line -a snub-nosed second 
heutenant, looking about 19 years old, who kept meekly giving 
up his place to superior officers 

‘The poor kid,’ Wintnnger said to himself, ‘he’ll never get to 
that desk ’ The kid finally did, however, and Wintringer heard 
the clerk say that there wasn’t a room left. At this the youngster 
seemed about to burst into tears. ‘Have a heart,’ he said to the 
stony-faced room clerk, ‘I’ve been hunting a room since nine 
o’clock this morning.’ But no, there still wasn’t anything. The 
lieutenant turned away desolately 

Wintringer couldn’t stand it He approached the heutenant, 
said that he had a large room with twin beds, and asked if 
the young man would like to bunk there. The heutenant said, 
‘Thank you, sir, but my wife is with me.’ He gestured towards a 



32 reader’s digest omnibus 

nearby chair, where there sat a %visp of a girl, thin-faced and 
blue-eyed, very wan, very crumpled, very tired. 

Wintringer marched to the manager’s office and pleaded the 
cause of this pathetic pair. ‘I know,’ the manager said, wearily. 
‘We get ’em by the dozen these days. I’m sorry, Mr Wintringer, 
but there just isn’t a room in the place.’ 

‘Then put a cot in my room,’ Wintringer said, ‘and they can 
come in with me. You must have a spare cot around — and a 
screen, to divide the room.’ 

The manager expressed horror at such an unorthodox idea - 
it was against all rules, it couldn’t possibly be done. Eventually 
Wintringer, a man of mature years and a sometimes choleric 
temper, inquired at the top of his limgs whether all these protests 
were being made on the grounds of morality ^ for heaven’s sake - 
because if so, continued Wintringer, still belloiving mightily, 
then this hotel was a whited sepulchre - and he could prove it, 
and would be glad to. What he knew about THIS hotel - etc etc. 

He made such a noise that the nerve-racked manager wanted 
only to pacify him, at whatever cost. He said, suddenly, suavely, 
‘Oh, but hfr Wintringer, you say the lady is your daughter? 
(^Vintringer had said no such thing.) Oh, well, in that case we 
can perhaps arrange it, as a very special favour. I’m so sorry 
you didn’t mention that before.’ 

Things happened immediately. The lieutenant and his bnde 
were shown upstairs to Wintringer’s room. There Wintringer 
stood by until a cot and screen were set up. He then gave the 
young couple a duplicate key and informed them that he was 
going out to dinner and the theatre; that he would be gone 
until after midnight, that he would slip in quietly and sleep on 
the cot, behind the screen. 

He followed this programme faithfully. It was well after 
midnight when he returned and tiptoed quietly through the 
darkened room to the cot. 

\Mien he awoke in the morning the young lieutenant and his 
wife were gone. They had obviously slept in only one of the 
beds, though they had been careful to rumple the other a little 
in a tactful sort of way. There was a note propped against a 
pillow', thanking him very much, oh, rny much. He’d been so 
w'ondcrfully kind. ... 

And now here was the girl, se\ en years later, again expressing 



THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER I’VE MET 33 

her gratitude, in the grey-walled hospital room in this strange 
toiiTi. She had brought him a big bright sheaf of home-grown 
flowers, which the little boy was clutching proudly. The boy 
had browTi eyes and a snub nose and curly hair. ^Vintringer, 
snuhng, said, ‘You look just like your father.’ 

‘Yes, doesn’t he^’ the girl said, pleased. ‘Everybody thinks so.’ 
‘How’ IS your husband, by the way’ I suppose I can’t call him 

“the heutenant” now'adays. ’ 

He saw' the shine go out of her eyes, but her voice w'as steady, 
as though w'ith long practice. 

‘He didn’t get back,’ she said, simply. ‘He was killed in the 
Hurtgen Forest. ThaFs another reason ivhy I’ll never forget 
what you did for us. Never, as long as I live Because he was 
shipping out then, you see. That was the last time I ever saw 
him.’ 

THE 

MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER 

I’VE MET 

JAMES SAXON CHILDERS 

In my early teens I dreamed of going to Oxford University. 
Then I w'on a Rhodes Scholarship and the dream came true. 
But in my first hour at Oxford, as I stood in my chilly bleak 
room, I ivished I’d never left Alabama. Everything w'as so 
strange. The towers of Oxford, the poet’s ‘dreaming spires’, to 
me were cold, grey stone against a dull grey sky. I was a 
20-year-old American boy in a foreign land for the first time, 
lonely, a little fhghtened and homesick. 

The door of my room opened and a tall man, lean and sharp- 
featured, stood in the entrance. He was perhaps 50 years old. I 
noticed the perfect fit of his suit, the gold w'atch-chain across his 
chest, his clipped moustache. I figured he was at least the dean. 

‘I aim \Vyatt, sir,’ he said, staring fixedly at a point above my 
head ‘I am your servant, sir.’ He pronounced it ‘sarvanF. 

I managed tosay, ‘That’sfine,Wyatt. I’msurewe’llgetalong — ’ 

First pabJisKed tn *Tbe Readtr s Dtgesf in 1951 



34 reader’s digest omnibus 

‘Thank you, sir. And what will you have for luncheon, sir?’ 

I could think of nothing. Pretending not to see my confusion, 
he suggested, ‘Most of the young gentlemen take commons, sir.’ 

‘Fine - I’ll have some commons.’ I had no idea what I w'as 
getting. 

‘Thank you, sir.’ A stiff bow and my ‘sarvant’ was gone. 

My study was about 12 by 15 feet; it contained a table, tivo 
chairs, a sofa, a fireplace, and a scuttle of coal on the hearth. 
Two smaller rooms opened off. One had a dining-table, four 
chairs and a sideboard; the other, an iron cot, beneath which 
was a china chamber pot, and on the washstand stood a boi\l 
and pitcher. 

I went back into the study. It was damp, the stone walls 
sweating in the foggy October air. Seven hundred years before, 
it had been the cell of a Benedictine monk. All my dreams of 
Oxford were now reduced to this barren cell. 

Then Wyatt had come into the room, and into my life. The 
tutors and the dons taught me the learning of the centuries. 
Wyatt translated all this into the simpler language of daily 
living and, while never preaching, hved a sermon for me to see. 
He taught me, among other things, how shght is the gap 
between servant and master. 

Wyatt served two stairways - 12 of us ‘young gentlemen’. He 
lighted the fires before we got up. He put our breakfasts on the 
tables. If we were sleeping too late he banged the poker and 
tongs until sleep was impossible. While w’e went to the showers 
he cleaned our rooms. 

Most Oxford men study in their rooms all morning and want 
no interruption. At midday Wyatt brought our lunches, usually 
commons — a crust of bread, a sliver of cheese and half a pint of 
ale. Invariably he dawdled in clearing the luncheon dishes and 
cloth, for he feared that his young gentlemen might remain 
indoors. ‘In England, sir, one must exercise every afternoon - 
the climate, you know.’ Regardless of cold, rain or fog, he 
drove us from our rooms, sending us out for rowing, Rugby, 
cricket or tennis. If we didn’t go out, \Vyatt kept coming in. 
He had forgotten his duster. Was there enough coal? Anvlhing 
to be such a nuisance that we’d get up and go out. 

At seven o’clock, when the bell began its slow tolling and all 
the black-clad dons and scholars marched into the great hall 



THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER I’VE MET 35 

for dinner, Wyatt stood beside High Table and received the 
tasselled hats of the dons, boivmg to each. He remained rigid 
while the Latin prayers were spoken; then, with the other 
ser\'ants, he began to pass the food and bnng the silver mugs of 
beer and ale. 

The Oxford plan of serving beer, ivines and whiskies to 
students was stmtling to me. It is against University rules for 
an undergraduate to enter a public bar, but most colleges sell 
beer and liquor by the dnnk, bottle or barrel. Such a novel 
arrangement led me one evening to show off before the English 
students, to prove that Americans are of steady head and staunch 
stomachs. I shoivcd off a bit too well. 

Wyatt - who seemed alw'ays to know about everything - tip- 
toed into my room the next morning, bearing a cup of tea He 
dipped a towel in cold water and laid it on my forehead. I 
mumbled that I was wretched and hombly ashamed. ‘It’s quite 
all right, sir. Many a gentleman is drunk once in his life.’ 

I have never been drunk since. 

At Oxford there are six-week vacations at Christmas and 
Easter, and the three-months ‘long vac’ m summer Normally, 
Amencan Rhodes Scholars wander over Europe. In my first 
vacation I followed the custom and spent Christmas in Paris 
I brought back a bottle of absinthe. 

As Wyatt unpacked my bags he asked all about my tnp. 
"When he came to the bottle of absinthe he said, ‘Asking your 
pardon, sir, but isn’t absinthe a dangerous dnnk?’ I w'aved the 
comment aside Hadn’t I sipped absinthe in a dozen little cafes 
on the Left Bank? Wyatt bowxd and put the bottle on the shelf. 
A few days later, while serving my lunch, he remarked that 
Oscar Wilde had drunk himself to death on absinthe. ‘I under- 
stand It’s habit-forming, sir.’ Again I paid no attention to him. 

That affemoon I returned from playing Rugby football and 
my dictionary was open on the table. Two books lay across the 
page, covering all of it except the defimtion of absinthe ‘A 
green alcoholic liquor containmg oils of wormwood and amse, 
and other aromatics. Its continued use causes nervous derange- 
ment.’ I laughed and tossed the dictionary aside. 

Two days later my bottle of absinthe was ‘withdratm’. Wyatt 
never mentioned it Nor did I. 

As I grew to know Wyatt he permitted me an informality 



3^ reader’s digest omnibus 

which he denied his other charges. Perhaps it was because I, 
an American, was more dependent on him. Setting up a playing 
field on my study table, he explained cricket to me. He 
demonstrated the correct procedure in presentmg myself to the 
assembled dons. 

We spent hours discussing Oxford, the traditions of England, 
the ways of Americans. He asked about Alabama, and my 
parents. He told me about himself. ‘Man and boy, sir, I have 
been a college servant for 35 years.’ There was pride in his voice, 
for to be associated with Oxford, in whatever way, is distinction. 

Wyatt was without conceit, but he was vain about his dress. 
His coat modelled his tall, slim body and his trousers were 
sharply jSressed, breaking properly at the tum-up. His tie was 
quiet and correct. He was far more scrupulous about my dress 
than I was. Occasionally I would miss a shirt. Wyatt would 
remark that the collar was worn, the cuffs frayed; he had 
‘withdrawn’ it. He recommended his tailor to me, but returned 
the first pair of plus fours I ordered. ‘They are unsatisfactory at 
the knee, sir.’ Wyatt had them altered and I could tell no 
difference. 

I learned in a strange way of his disapproval of a pair of 
gloves I had brought from America. Each Oxford college is 
surrounded by thick stone walls about ten feet high, topped wth 
spikes and broken bottles. Every undergraduate must be inside 
lus college walls at midnight. Once I was caught out and, 
assisted by a boost from a town policeman, climbed the wall. 
One of my woollen gloves, violent yellow and red and green in 
colour, caught on a spike and I had to leave it dangling - 
evidence of my offence. 

Next morning the glove was turned over to the dean, who 
placed a notice on the bulletin board: ‘Some gentleman left 
his glove on the spikes last evening. He may regain his property 
by calling at the rooms of the dean.’ Wyatt saw the notice 
before I did, told me about it, and added, ‘I have destroyed the 
incriminating companion glove, sir. I did it with pleasure, for 
it was a gaudy and unworthy garment.’ 

Wyatt was a snob about Cambridge University. Oxford was 
tlie seat of learning, the home of gentlemen scholars, and - by 
implication - the haven of superior servants. ‘Cambridge, sir, is 
a boisterous place.’ He sent his owm son to Oxford. 



THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER I’VE MET 37 

' ‘It might have been easier on my son to attend Cambridge, 
but tlie idea is distasteful to me. They are a rowdy lot’ 

The only strain betiveen us was the fact that Wyatt would 
never sit doivn in my room. Sometimes late at mght, when he 
was long past duty hours and still Imgered to talk, I asked him 
to sit by the fire ivith me. He always thanked me but remained 
standing. Once when he was leavmg, on a cold night, I offered 
him a dnnk He drew quickly erect and his stare reproved me. 
Then, iwth a slow smile, ‘You Amencans never qmte leam, 
do you sir?’ He bowed. *I would enjoy a dnnk, but it isn’t 
done.’ 

Wyatt hved in a pretty brick house near the college. He had 
a garden and every spnng mormng he came riding along on his 
bicycle, smiling and speakmg to his fhends firom behind a big 
bunch of flowers He fixed a bowl of poppies, swe'et peas or 
roses m the room of each of his young gentlemen. Whenever I 
had guests dunng the spring term my room was filled ivith 
flowers. If I had tourist visitors from Amenca, Wyatt would 
ransack all his students’ rooms and assemble all the best hnen 
and silver for the occasion. 

Wyatt was acclaimed by his fellow servants and the towns- 
people of Oxford as a sportsman. He played for 13 years m the 
University College Servante team. He was m the football team 
which won the City Jumor League. He rowed for a roiving 
club and was a member of a golf club. Yet for 35 years he came 
to work at seven m the mormng, and his fined duty ended at 
nine o’clock at night. 

One spring I saw Wyatt play cricket for the Worcester 
College Sen'ants against the servants of Christ Church College. 
In this match I watched him approach a cncketer’s dream, the 
scoring of 100 runs - ‘making his century’. Batting with sureness 
and grace, he passed 75 Eighty-five Ninety. Ninety-five The 
crowd grew tense and no one spoke. Ninety-mne. The bowler 
threw - and the ball was a streak from IVyatt’s bat to the 
boundary. He had done it 

‘\Vcll played, Billy' \Vell done, Billy!’ 

I looked at the chcenng spectators, and at the tall man in 
white flannels standing beside the wicket Billy! Had this man 
another name beside Wyatl^ Had I hved with him these years 
and knoivn only a part of him? 



3^ Reader’s digest omnibus 

"W illiam Claude ^Vyatt knew the works of Dickens and Scott; 
somehow he had picked up a little Latin. ‘But the best reading, 
sir, IS the Bible ’ He said to me one night, ‘Americans are 
impatient. They arrne here talking of degrees and seeking an 
itemised education. They want to know when classes meet. 
AVhat text-books will they use.’ He shrugged. ‘^Ve have none of 
that. Oxford, sir, is a w'ay of life. It docs not come from lectures 
and formal study. It is absorbed until a man knows what is 
good and true.’ 

One w'cek I was more interested in the Grand National race 
than my books. I let my studies slide, and finally turned in an 
essay on Oliver Goldsmith which was based more on bluff than 
knowledge. My tutor listened, hidden as usual behind the 
smoke of his pipe, and when I finished, said, ‘An interesting 
essay, I declare, h'latter of fact, I have only one question 
concerning it. Have you, at any lime in your life, read a single 
line written by a man named Oliver Goldsmith?’ 

Back in my rooms, I was indignant. ^Vhen Wyatt came in I 
told him what had happened. ‘He had his nerve! - asking if I’d 
read a single line by Oliver Goldsmith.’ 

Wyatt’s face was chiselled from granite. ‘Have you, sir?’ he 
said 

As lime for my final examination drew near, Wyatt was 
merciless. Each morning he cleared my breakfast dishes and 
covered the tables wdih my books. If he found a novel beside 
my reading chair, he returned it to the shelf. Whenever we were 
alone he asked, ‘How are w’e doing, sir? Will we be ready?’ 

I have been dowm from Oxford many years. After I left I 
often heard from Wyatt. Then one day a letter came. ‘Mrs. 
■Wyatt is very well. My son, Cecil, is getting married in October. 
He is now' in a firm of chartered accountants, but hopes some day 
to set up lor himself. I am afraid I cannot tell you good news 
about mycclf, as I am wailing to go into hospital. I don’t think 
I can start the October term. Well, we all have our bothers. 
Joy to all at your house and goodbye to you, sir. Yours 
obediently — ’ 

A few’ days later I rccci\ed a clipping from the Oxford Times. 
It was heaclcd. ‘Funeral of W. C. Wyatt.’ He w'as 6o w'hen he 
died. I am sorry I never saw’ him after I was older. I would like 
to have said: ‘Thank sir!’ 



‘WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO 
TURN RESPECTABLE?’ 

j 

THADDEUS ASHBY 

On my \say back to college in 1945 I passed through the steel 
distnct that stretches from South Chicago to Gary, Indiana, in 
an unbroken forest of smokestacks, black nulls, gnmy tenements. 

I thought the rain of soot and cinders out there looked hke hell 
on earth. I felt sorry for the men who worked there. 

A year later I had to leave Harvard for lack of money. I 
needed a job in a hurry. I tried the usual white-collar employ- 
ment sources - investment banking, advertising, journahsm - 
but without success Finally the kindly personnel manager of a 
large steel corporation had a suggestion. Why not go mto a 
steel null? 

I argued with myself. ‘You are cultured and sensitive,’ I said, 
‘you weren’t intended to ivork with your hands ’ But I had to 
eat. A week later I had taken a job as a sweeper for Repubhc 
Steel Corporation in Cleveland, Ohio. 

At 5 30 the first morning Mrs Kow'alski, my landlady, 
prised my death gnp from the bed and faced me into the 
sub-arctic wind towards the tram-hnes ‘I’ve changed my 
mind,’ I said, turning back ‘I’ve decided to quit this job Let 
me in.’ 

‘I w'on’t let you in,’ said Mrs Kow'alski. ‘You haven’t paid 
your rent yet ’ 

The tram smelled of garlic and w'hisky. Some men carried . 
whisky in their thermos bottles mixed with coffee, a practice 
frowmed upon by safety officers in the nulls, but it seemed hke 
an excellent idea at six o’clock on a January' morning. 

Arriving at the mill, I w'as fitted ivith steel-toed safely shoes 
and lectured on the Iife-c.\pcctancy of w'orkers w'ho disregard 
the safety instructions A foreman said, ‘Sw'ccp this,’ and vaguely 
indicated 15 or 20 acres of floor space That was my job for 
several weeks. You never get it done, of course. 

Fwa puihshed <n ‘The Reader^ DigesS' tn 1950 



40 reader’s digest omnibus 

I was in a place called the cold mill. Little by little, the 
activity of the place caught my eye, and I began to ivatch, the 
way city pedestrians watch the excavation for a new building. 
Coils of hot-rolled steel, from 20 to 90 inches iride and several 
hundred feet long, stood rolled up by the hundreds in roivs 
called bays. One by one the coils are lifted from the bays by 
magnets on overhead cranes, then unrolled as they are passed 
cold through a set of steel rolls that temper the steel, make it 
stronger and reduce it to the thinness required by the individual 
customer. The polished steel rolls, two feet in diameter, are set 
in stands 30 feet high; they look like giant washing-machine 
wringers. 

‘You wouldn’t think so,’ the foreman said to me one day, ‘but 
every so often we lose track of a few hundred thousand pounds 
of steel. The coils aren’t lost exactly, but we can’t find them 
when we want them, and that holds up the order.’ 

‘^^^ly don’t you label the coils^’ I asked. 

‘We do. We label them with chalk. But the magnets bang 
them around so much they skin the numbers off.’ 

‘WTiy don’t you use a stencil and paint the numbers on?’ I 
said. 

The foreman looked at me. ‘You don’t talk like a sweeper,’ he 
said, walking away. The next day I was moved out of his 
department. 

Mac, my new foreman, explained it. ‘Tom put you in for a 
better job,’ he said. ‘"We’re going to make you stocker of the 
fimshing mill. You’ll locate and hne up the steel in time for the 
craneman to carry it to the temper pass rolls. You’ll have to 
hustle to get the steel to the feed conveyor before Mike the roller 
blows his whistle for more steel.’ 

I was only a file clerk, but I was filing steel, and if I didn’t 
know the location of each coil before time came to roll it, I’d 
hold up production on the null. I could sec the importance of 
the job, and I was learning things not included in the curriculum 
at Har\'ard. And I was making t%vice as much as I would have 
been making at a w'hitc-collar beginner’s job. 

So I walked through my end of the mill, writing down the 
order number and location of cverj' coil of steel. You never saw 
stuff so mixed up. I w'cnt to Pete the craneman. W'c would 
relocate everything by sizes, I said, and when we got rolling he 



‘when are you going to turn respectable?’ 41 

would have to move only a few feet for each successive order 
number. He looked at me oddly, but apparently decided to 
humour me. By the time I ivent home that mght Pete and I had 
laid out the mill the way I suggested. 

Next morning Mrs Kow'akki said, ‘Worst blizzard in 25 years. 
You better stay home.’ 



‘O K.,’ I said. Then I thought of the new system at the mill. 
I walked three miles through the drifts. 

It w'as interesting to see who had come. There was Pete the 
craneman, Mac the foreman, Mike the roller and half his crew. 

‘Today’s the boss’s birthday,’ Mike said. ‘IVe’rc going to 
surprise him.’ 

‘How?’ I asked. 

*IWre gomg to break the damn world’s record for rolling 
cold steel.’ 

‘But we’re shorthanded,’ I objected. 




42 reader’s digest omnibus 

‘That don’t make no difference. ^Ve don’t need them other 
goof-ofis.’ 

Mike handed me the rolling schedule. Some schedules skip 
around, jumping from wide to narrow widths and back until 
you lose a couple of hours out of your day changing rolls that 
have been scratched by the rough edges of the narrow stuff. 
This schedule had the wide stuff at the top^and not a drop of 
two inches between any of the orders. 

I showed Pete the steel I wanted first, and he laid his magnet 
doivn on two four-ton coils at once and swning them into the 
air - almost as tricky an operation as trying to suspend a foot- 
ball with one hand. He laid them right in the mill instead of on 
the conveyor - we didn’t have a man to run the conveyor. Mike, 
an inspector, and I fed the steel into the rolls ourselves and W'e 
were rolling. 

By ten o’clock we thought we might break the record. Some 
coils on my schedule w^erc missing, how ever; they’d been moved 
by the nighishift. ^Vc had to have them in ten minutes. I found 
them in an adjoining building. Pete and I rushed over, stole a 
crane and loaded the coils on a flat-car. But there was no tractor 
to get the car to our building. 

‘We’ll fix that,’ said Pete. ‘I’ll let my magnet cable out all the 
way, swing the magnet into the other mill and stick it on to that 
flat.’ 

Since Pete couldn’t sec through the door of our building from 
the height of his crane, I drew a chalk line on the mill floor and 
directed his swing with gestures. He let the cable out, the 
magnet flew through the door, followed the chalk line and hit 
the flat-car with a crash Then Pete icclcd in his cable. The 
operation w-as comparable to casting a fishline into the front 
door of a house across the street and pulling out a baby’s pram 
without spilling baby. 

By 2.30 our tension w'as caught by men in other departments; 
it W'as near quitting time, so thc> gathered round to w'atch. By 
five minutes to three the record was broken. The inspector 
w'alkcd to the side of the mill, wrote in chalk: ‘900,000 lbs. 
Time: 7 hours 55 minutes.’ 

The men didn’t clap or cheer - they don’t operate that way. 
But Mac the foreman and Mike the roller wore grins like neon 
signs. 



‘when are you going to turn respectable?’ 43 

On the way home an old steelman asked me who rolled the 
record 

‘Mike Hanrahan,’ I said. 

‘Hell, he couldn’t of done it without God Almighty for a 
Stocker,’ he said. ‘IN'ho stocked the mill?* 

‘I did,’ I said 

The old man looked at me hard, nodded, and walked on. I 
knew I’d never again have a compliment that would mean so 
much, because it w as unintended 

Some months later I got into conversation with an open- 
hearth worker named Ste\ e ‘You ought to try the open hearth,’ 
he said. ‘Tapping a furnace makes cold-rolhng look like cutting 
paper dolls.’ 

‘WTiat goes on in the open hearth?’ I asked. 

‘IVell, that’s where steel is made. We take the molten iron 
that’s been smelt’ down in the blast furnaces and pour it inta 
the open hearth on top of cold steel scrap. \\ e add a httle lime- 
stone, then cook her up for maybe 14 hours until the limestone 
has brought the impunaes to the surface. The difference betw'een 
iron and steel, ya see, is just that iron’s got more carbon and 
siheon in it; bod out most of the carbon and silicon and ya’ve 
got steel. But it takes a lot of heat, around 3,000 degrees, and a 
lot of stirring and chemicals ISTien she’s done ya tap her out, 
pour her into moulds, and let her cool. Then she’s ready to be 
reheated and rolled out flat.’ 

"VMien he told me what the work paid, I made my decision. 

My first day in the open hearth was bewildering The huge, 
window'less, sheet-iron shed -high as a six-storey building - 
stretched by the side of the nver for nearly a quarter of a mile. 
Cranes rumbled about overhead, their movements punctuated 
by shrill whistles; engines thundered past, drawing huge buckets 
of iron; a terrible, bnlliant light poured out of Cyclops eyes in 
the furnace doors I was told to buy a pair of purple glasses to 
protect my eyes from the terrific light 

To Morgan, the leather-faced melter who w'as to be my new 
boss, Steve said, T brought a new man to learn yer job so’s you 
can retire ’ 

Morgan glanced at me. ‘He don’t look like a steelman - more 
like a shop assistant.’ 

‘Give him a easy job, you old goat.’ 












‘when are you going to turn respectable?’ 45 

dolomite sail right into the steel - instead of against the back 
wall, where it was needed Once I nearly lost my shovel and when 
I drew it out of the door, the edges were white-hot and curlmg. 

‘Never make steelman,’ Rudik said. 

‘Damn employment office sending me shop assistants,’ said 
Morgan. 

‘Send’m back,’ advised Rudik. 

I felt terrible. 

That mght Steve took me out in my landlady’s backj'ard 
where there w as a pile of gravelfor a new driveway. ‘Shovelhng’s 
an art,’ Steve said ‘To correct yer aim ya gotta follow through 
and watch where yer doloimte lands ’ 

‘Yes, but if I stop to w’atch it, my eyebrow's catch fire.’ 

“Ya don’t stop Ya dip yer shovel down low like this, brmg 
her up under the door hke this, see, and throw yer arm over yer 
face \Miile ya’re brmgin’ yer shovel back, keep her between 
yer face and the heat like this, and watch w'here yer load hits. 
It ain’t a matter of strength. Even you can do it.’ 

Ste\ e did it with the grace of a ballet dancer. I practised for 
two hours. He corrected my swing with comments as tcchmcal 
as a golf pro’s. The next day I shovelled as rehearsed, called my 
shots and scored. 

‘^\^ly you no show that yesterday?’ asked Rudik. 

‘I was rusty,’ I said happily. 

There was no lunch period m the nulls, we ate any time we 
w'eren’t busy I felt that if I didn’t eat somethmg about once an 
hour I ivould collapse from the heat. One big Pole, three times 
my size, ate a third as much as I did 

‘I w'atch you smce morning,’ he said to me one day. “You 
come ivith lunch sack big as duffel-bag. Seven clock you eat ham 
sandw'ich, two banana. Eight clock you eat pastrami sandwich, 
two doughnuts. Nine clock piece cake, tangerine. Ten Steve 
give you raw hamburger, you cook in furnace. Eat, eat, all the 
time eatl Boy, where you put iff’ 

I got the idea about cookmg hamburgers from Rudik He 
used to stand by the peephole, holding up his shovel to protect 
his face from the heat, and study the working of the hot steel. I 
did the same thing, to learn the •work of a first helper. Mean- 
while, I would put a hamburger on my shovel, and the heat 
would fiy it m about two minutes. Morgan saw me standing by 



4® reader’s digest ohkibds 

a furnace door one day, peering into the' heat with intense 
concentration. ‘That’s a good boy,’ he said. *AVe might make a 
steelman outa ya yet. Get over there and watch Steve tap 
Number 13 because ya’ll have to do it yerselfsomc day.’ 

‘There ain’t nothin’ to it,’ said Steve. ‘The main thing is to 
know when she’s ready to tap. Then run for the back of the 
furnace and tap her quick to save the steel. We want to spill her 
inta the ladle, not onta the floor.’ 

I watched Steve put on his wool coat, purple glasses and 
helmet. A %vire screen, covered with wool except where a peep- 
hole was left for his eyes, hung from his helmet. Then he put on 
enormous wool gloves. I watched him approach the ugly red 
tap-hole and its six-foot spout. 

Imagine a wine barrel 20 feet high, one side half-buried in 
the floor, the other side towering over a great pit. That’s an 
open-hearth furnace. Imagine that you have to bum a hole 
through the bung, so that the wine can flow through the spout 
into a bucket about 12 feet high. Imagine that you are standing 
on a platform by the side of a very hot spout, an oxygen lance 
in your hand, burning away at the bung. Remember that the 
wine IS not wine, but boiling steel. Ram your oxygen lance into 
the bung until the yellow smoke blinds you. Keep on ramming 
until sparks shower your helmet and you hear hot gargling in 
the tap-hole throat. Follow your instincts: get away from the 
hole. A river of fire, followed by 200 tons of steel, 3,000 degrees 
Fahrenheit, is roaring out of the place where your head was. 

Steve hit me on the head wi^ his glpves. ‘Remember the 
rules and put on your hat,’ he yelled, ‘before your hair catches 
fire!’ 

Tliat clinched it. ‘^Vhat’s good about this job?’ I asked. ‘Is 
money that important?’ 

‘After ya do it once, you w'on’t have to ask.’ 

One day Steve came out of Morgan’s office lit up like Times 
Square. ‘Old Rudik finally retired,’ he said. ‘They give me his 
job on 14. Now I got a furnace of my own.’ 

I was happy about it, of course. It was what he wanted. 

‘You’re my second helper,’ he said. ‘You got to tap out my 
furnace.’ 

‘Wait a minute,’ I said, tiyang to make myself think I hadn’t 
heard exactly what he said. ‘You want me to tap z.JuTnaceT 



‘when are you going to turn respectable?* 47 

‘Sure. You’ve watched me plenty of times. You take the job? 
Yes or no?’ 

‘Well . . .’ I said hesitantly. Then bravado took over. ‘Sure, 
I’ll take it.’ 

I put on my wool coat, purple glasses and helmet. My 
stomach felt as if mercury were running around inside. As many 
times as I had watched Steve tap a furnace, I couldn’t remember 
anything. I was not only afraid of dumping Si 0,000 into the 
pits; I was also doing considerable worrying about myself. 

I rounded up the stock: 2,500 pounds of manganese to make 
the steel tough, aluminium and silicon to act as agents in driving 
out the oxygen and controlling grain size. Morgan the melter 
was responsible for the accuracy of the chemical analysis. He 
told Steve what to bring and I brought it. And I would have to 
shovel it into the ladle. 

Steve took a small spoon ivith a long handle, dipped it 
through the open door of the furnace, let it become coated by 
the floating slag, then plunged it deeper to bring out a spoonful 
of molten steel. This he poured into a mould. He cooled it ivith 
water, then hammered it until it broke. He could tell by the 
markings of the fracture whether the steel was ready for tapping, 
but had to get an O.K. from the laboratory. 

‘Bum her out!’ yelled Steve when the O.K. came through. 

I picked up an oxygen lance, a scraper, a spout shovel and a 
third helper, a new man. 

I hollered at the craneman until he brought a 200-ton ladle - 
big enough to hold more than a hundred mashed-down Ford 
cars, I thought to myself- and put it under 14’s spout. The 
third helper brought me the tools I asked for. 'Ihe crew stood 
behind me respectfully and did what I ordered It was my show 
now. But it was just as well the crew couldn’t see the white face, 
covered with cold sweat, inside my helmet. 

I looked into the tap-hole and jabbed away ivith my scraper. 
Then came the big moment. I set my teeth tight and rammed 
the lance into the tap-hole. 

The warning smoke curled up round me. I choked, but 
rammed the lance home until sparks flew out of the tap-hole. 
The heat warped the ivire screen in my helmet I continued to 
ram. There was a loud whoosh, a skyrocket burst behind my 
eyes, and I fell backwards, losing my lance in the white-hot 



48 


reader’s digest omnibus 


deluge. Steve had pulled me away from the hole at the last 
second. I, who had been scared to death, hadn t been scared 
enough to risk doing the job half-way. I had been more con- 
cerned with getting the steel out of the furnace than getUng 
myselfaway from the steel. , t. .. 

‘Damfool trick,’ muttered Steve, happily watching the h^t 
flow. It was a good tap; it was flowing freely as Niagam. He 
dug me in the ribs and pointed to the white glow, wapping the 
mill in a cleansing, immaculate light. 

‘It’s hell, ain’t it?’ he said. 

Dante couldn’t have put it better. ^ • 

I began shovelling the manganese, silicon and aluminium 
into the ladle, and found I was shovelling '^^h a strange rehsh. 
In a moment somebody was working wth me. IVhen we finished 
I looked up to thank him. It was Morgan the mdter. 

*I remember the tough time you had filling that manganese 

bin,’ he said, spitting into the ladle. , 

‘You old mick,’ I said, ‘why don’t you let them pension you 

‘I’m afraid you lousy shop assistants trill bum down the mill, 

^'^Stevc^dTdid well together. We bought some boote on 
combustion engineering and started to leam ^eltog. - 
timers like Morgan could look at the heat and tcU by the 
shading of colour how hot it was; we relied on a heat-measunng 

instrument caUed a pryomctcr. We learned Sly 

of the furnace from excessive gas-scorching, and the 
figures showed that our production, minus dotvn Umc rep^, 

Sint more money for us. We never lost a heat out of the 
bottom as some did, and our furnace pioneered the use ol 
oxvffcn for stirring* the steel and lowering the melting ttme. 

Fwould go home at night too tired to wash, but I beg^ 
living for the eight hours at the mill, not the recreation ^ter- 
wards. I felt superior to the rest of the people on the tram, 
confident that none of them worked as hard or importantly as 

^ One day I received a letter from a cousin still m college, 
men areVo going to turn respectable?’ he wanted to kno% . 

Christmas, me men 



‘when are YOtJ GOING TO TURN RESPECTABLE?’ 49 

were scheduled to work on Christmas, but most of them didn’t 
show up. So Steve and I agreed to work a tnple turn, 24 con- 
5ecuti\e hours, for time-and-a-half pay. Our furnace was the 
only one that ran full blast round the clock, and we had a 
production picmc. We wanted to stick the ojcj^gen pipes into the 
hot steel so it would boil faster and be ready to tap out sooner. 
But the ox)'gen supply turned out to be locked up tighter than 
the Mint. So we got the idea of running plain air into the heat. 
^Ve learned something. Ordinary compressed air, which is 
cheaper, is just as good for stirring up steel as costly, pure oxj'gen. 

We called up Morgan to tell him. He was so excited that he 
left his family’s Christmas partj' and charged down to the nulls. 
IVe were runmng way over capadty, splashmg the steel up 
against the roof of the fomace as if there were an egg-beater m 
it. Morgan let us risk the roof, and we turned up the air foil 
blast. Normally you never got two heats a day out of a fomace; 
w’e got three Six hundred tons a day out of one fomace instead 
of 400. We ivere too excited to be tired or hungry. It was the 
best Christmas Steve and I had ever known. 

I stood on the platform watching my third heat for the day 
flow out the spout. I kept mj’self aw-ake by thinking about my 
pay. But there was something about this w'ork more important 
than the money. And as I watched the colour of my w'ork light 
up the mill the words gradually came to me that I put mto a 
letter to my cousm 

‘If I could convey to you the feeling I have m the mills I 
could help you understand w'hy I’m staying here. I recommend 
this sort of w'ork to you. There are thousands bemg tramed for 
white-collar jobs that just don’t exist Competition for the good 
jobs will squeeze a lot of college graduates out. Instead of stay- 
ing on a white-collar job that pays a bare fomg for the rest of 
your life, try the nulls, I say. Try them durmg summer vacation. 
You’ll earn good pay and learn plenty. You nught decide to 
stay on. You could be a first helper like my fiiend Steve. Or 
you could go on up in management - most managers were mill 
hands once. You w'anted to ^ow w'hen I w'ould leave the mills 
and turn respectable I’m more respectable now’ than I ever 
was But to understand that you’d have to stand on the platform 
with me, w’atch the steel flow’ out of the furnace, and say to 
yourself: I helped make that.’ 



THE INVASION 
I. THE GREAT DECISION 
Behind the Scenes with EisenJwwer 

ALLAN A. MICHIE 

Four years ago, before the last British soldier was taken off the 
beach at Dunkirk, Prime Minister Churchill assigned a small 
group of officers to the specific task of planning the return to 
the Continent. Then and for a long time afterwards, it seemed a 
mere academic exercise. But by the time of the Casablanca 
Conference in early 1943 the project no longer looked fantastic 
and the plans for D-Day filled four huge volmnes, each the size 
of a New York telephone book. 

The place where the invasion would strike tvas decided more 
than a year ago. Roosevelt, ChtirchiU and the combined Chiefs 
of Staff approved the decision in August 1943 at Quebec. 

That it would start between the end of May and the middle 
of June 1944 was decided at least eight mont^ in advance. In 
November J943 at Teheran, President Roosevelt so informed 
Marshal Stafin. The exact day was to be left to Eisenhower. 
Marshal Stalin expressed his complete satisfaction. 

When General Eisenhower arrived in London in January 
1944, he checked over the forecasts of the men and equipment 
he would expect, and on what dates. Satisfied, he set invasion 
week to be between 3 and 10 June. 

But the selection of the precise day was a last-minute 
drama. 

Four or five weeks before D-Day, shaef (Supreme Head- 
quarters Allied Expeditionary Forces) depart^ from London 
and moved into battle headquarters conveniently near the 
loading ports and the ‘hards’ — stretches of English beach paved 
with blocks on to which landing-craft come at high tide. 

In a big, stodgy old house that had seen better days, standing 
in a rolling, wooded private park wras the nerve centre of the 
entire invasion operation. 

Tvat-iJtitiitivi’Tkt Rtsia't Dvtter %nlM 


50 



THE INVASION 


51 

Vital pieces of information poured into this qmet woodland 
hideout - photographs taken by suicide pilots above Normandy 
beaches shoeing five main types of imnes and underwater 
obstacles to impede our landings, photographs of vital bridges 
and railway yards bombed to uselessness. The preparatory air 
attacks began eight weeks before D-Day, and by 6 June, 82 
strategic railway centres behind the Atlantic \Vall had been put 
out of action and most rail and road bridges leading to the 
Cherbourg peninsula were broken, forcing Germans to move up 
supplies and reinforcements by long detours. The air policy was 
to drop two bombs elsewhere, as on Pas de Calais, to one on the 
real invasion objective, to divert German suspicion. 

A few days before D-Day, the Channel clearing plan started 
workmg. Allied destroyers and planes, with interlocking sweeps, 
covered almost every square yard of the Enghsh Channel while 
other forces bottled it up at both ends. U-boats were unable to 
surface long enough in the area to charge battenes wthout 
being detected. German E-boats and R-boats were driven back 
to bases whose approaches were mined nightly by planes to 
make impossible any sudden sortie against the invasion fleet. 
Heavier ships of the Home Fleet cruised through the North 
Sea approaches ready to intercept any bigger German warships. 
Intelligence reports, corroborated by photographs, described 
hidden big gun emplacements on the coast which had not 
pre\dously been detected. 

At the last nunute a German sergeant deserted his Fbhrer 
and at pistol pomt forced French fishermen to take him across 
to England He brought ivith him valuable details of the Atlantic 
^Vall defences along the Normandy coast. But by that tune the 
Atlantic Wall had few secrets from us. 

The British had long ago issued an appeal for snapshots taken 
in peace-time by tnpperson to the Contment. From the thousands 
sent in, valuable details were ferreted out - a narrow lane not 
shoivn on any maps that led up behind a chff on which the 
Germans had installed a heavy gun battery, a back alley that 
curves behind a tourist hotel which the Germans had made into 
a strong-point. 

As far back as 29 March troops began moving into staging 
areas, then closer to embarkation ports, then finally to their 
loading areas. Nearly 2,000 special troop trains were run to 



5® reader’s digest omxibus 

coastal ports. In the great control room an illuminated map 
showed the progress of every convoy along the roads to the 
ports. Meanwhile, in large areas of Britain, evacuated by 
civilians, troops were training %vith live ammunition. Rommel’s 
beach obstacles were duplicated and demolition squads practised 
taking the sting out of them. 

As a result of the Dieppe experience, special landing-craft 
fitted with rocket batteries were developed to mow down Ger- 
man beach obstructions. Tens of thousands of vehicles were 
waterproofed for beach landings and equipped ivith flexible 
tubing and steel chimneys that reared high above the engines 
to suck down air to the motors as they plunged through surf up 
to the drivers’ necks. Some 280 British factories were set \\ orking 
day and night and the entire output of Britain’s sheet steel 
rolling mills was taken over for this great job. The intricate 
task of loading the invasion ships took two years of expert 
planning. 

The endless ammunition dumps built up along quiet English 
lanes actually contained more ammunition than was used in all 
of ^Vorld War I. Tanks were parked track to track, aircraft 
stood wing-tip to iving-tip, miles-long convoys of trucks, bull- 
dozers, amphibious craft and self-propelled guns were parked 
in fields and at roadsides until Britons wondered if their little 
island would sink under the weight. 

Just 30 days before D-Day, the last full-scale invasion exercise 
was completed. Tired Yaifics and Tommies who had partici- 
pated in half a dozen such exercises complained that next time 
they were called out they wanted to go straight into action. 
Landing-craft crews who had frequently been sent out on feints 
to deceive the enemy felt the same. They got their wish. 

Seven days before D-Day, which was originally set for 
Monday, 5 June, final loading-up began. 

As the da>'s ticked off, the tension at shaef mounted higher 
and higher, but at the personal headquarters of the commanders 
there was an atmosphere of calm. Alonty left to subordinates 
the detail w’ork, which he abhors, and read his favourite author, 
Anthony Trollope. 

Eisenhow'cr refused to move mto the big house but/-sct up 
tent headquarters in the w'oods. He sleeps in what he calls his 
‘circus waggon’, built on a 2|-ton army truck chassis — an idea 



THE INVASION 53 

borrowed from Monty. Its one room is littered ivith an odd 
assortment of ^Viid \Vest yams and psychological novels. 

On Fnday afternoon, 2 June, Prime Minister ChurchiU and 
Field Marshal Smuts dropped into Eisenhower’s camp after 
touring the coast to iratch loading operations on the ‘hard’. 
The three men talked for an hour. Churchill suggested that he 
should go along ivith the assault forces on D-Day. 

General Eisenhower at first passed off the Prime hlmister’s 
remark as a joke, but Churchill returned to the pomt and finally 
Eisenhower said flatly that Churchill could not go. He reminded 
the Prime Minister that if he were lost things would be dis- 
organised in Britam and the whole mihtary operation would 
be endangered. ‘Besides,’ continued Eisenhower, ‘the warship 
you’d be on w ould require more protection than we can ordinarily 
give it.’ 

In this vem, he was informed that Buckmgham Palace was 
calling him on the telephone. It was the King, who had learned 
of his chief minister’s purpose m visiting Eisenhower. Under no 
circumstances, said the Kmg, was Mr ChurchiU to consider 
gomg to France on D-Day. 

ChurchiU acceded, in doivncast mood. 

Saturday evening, 3 June, General Eisenhower held the first 
of four conferences that were to determine D-Day, H-Hour. The 
confreres were Monty, neatly dressed for a change, in a new 
battledress just sent him from the Umted States; quiet, soft- 
spoken Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, Eisenhower’s 
b rillian t deputy; Alhed Naval Commander-in-Chie^ smaU, 
peppery Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, the man who had 
h nlHant ly improvised the ‘Operation Dynamo’ that rescued the 
troops from Dunkirk. 

Last to arrive ivas Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh- 
MaUory, Commander of the Alhed Expeditionary air forces 
He had flown doivn from London m his pnvate puddle-jumper 
aircraft. 

Outside in the fading half-light of an Enghsh summer day, 
the weather appeared good to a la)Tnan’s eyes, but to the 
weather experts at shaef the forecast was discouragmg. There 
were three chief weather midivives assisting at the birth of the 
great invasion - two British officers and an American air force 
colonel. For weeks past they had been produang forecasts and 

G 







THE INVASION 55 

come \vithm 12 hours. The other two weather men, separately 
questioned, agreed 

General Eisenhower summed up the position to his com- 
manders Everything was ready. If they delayed much longer, 
German reconnaissance aircraft were bound to find out the 
extent of mass shipping and landing-craft assembled off the 
ports. The Amencan assault force and the United States naval 
task force were already under weigh, and the longer they stayed 
at sea the more difficult it would be to keep the many landmg- 
craft shepherded mto convoys. A few more days under German 
observation and the mvasion lost its chance of tacticzil surprise. 

The weather was a gamble. General Eisenhower admitted, 
but it was up to himself and the high commanders to rise to it, 
or turn away. They all knew what turning away imphed- 
delay, perhaps of weeks, the mtricate loading process to be done 
over agam, bad effect on the morale of troops. 

Eisenhower turned to Admiral Ramsay and asked, ‘IMiat do 
you think?’ 

Ramsay replied, T’d hke to hear the “Air” give his views ’ 

Air Chief Marshal Leigh-Mallory spoke with dehberation 
but left no doubt that ‘Air’ was ivilling to gamble on the weather 
experts’ predictions 

‘All nght,’ said Admiral Ramsay, ivith mock belhgerency, ‘if 
the “Air” thinks he can do it, the Na\y certainly can ’ 

General Eisenhower smiled, but only bnefly. This was the 
moment the peoples of the Allied Nations had sweated and 
toiled for. Lookmg doivn the table at his commainders, his face 
more serious than it ever has been or is likely to be agam, he 
said quietly, ‘Okay, let ’er np.’ 

Those around the table rose quickly and hurried from the 
room to set the operation in motion. Ike called after them, ‘Good 
luck.’ 

He was last to emerge from the room. He was walking heavily, 
and those who saw him remarked later that each of the eight 
stars on his shoulders seemed to weigh a ton. He drove quickly 
back*to his ‘circus waggon’ and turned in ivithout waking his 
aides . . . 

"With the mammoth operation at last under way, there was 
no one more useless than the supreme commander. During the 
long day before D-Day, General Eisenhower had nothing to do 



56 reader’s digest omnibus 

but visit his troops. In the morning, he drove to a nearby port 
and chatted wth British soldiers boarding their landing-craft. 
In the evening he drove to airfields where men of the loist U.S. 
Airborne Division were loading in their transport planes and 
black gliders. As he rolled up in his four-starred Cadillac at 
airfield after airfield, the men were already colouring their 
faces with cocoa and linseed oil. He went about from group to 
group wisecracking ivith them, partly to relieve their tension, 
partly his own. 

As the boys climbed into their dark planes, the General called 
out, ‘Good luck*’ He was noticeably affected. To drop several 
divisions of airborne and paratroop forces imlcs behind the 
Atlantic Wall, long before H-Hour on the beaches, was a 
tremendous risk. Many of his oivn staff officers, British and 
American, had strongly advised against it. If the beach-heads 
%veren’t established securely it meant several divisions ofsupcrbly 
trained troops would be lost. The General took the risk. He 
knew that, in taking it, he was sending some of them to certain 
death. They knew it, too. 

The first phone call on D-Day, 6 June, came to Eisenhoivcr’s 
office about 7 a.m. Commander Harry Butcher, Eisenhower’s 
friend and naval aide, answered. It was Lcigh-Mallory report- 
ing that airborne and paratroop landings had been unbelievably 
successful and that the first assault landings had been success- 
fully made. Butcher stepped across the cinders to Ike’s ‘circus 
waggon’ expecting to find the General still asleep, but he was 
in bed propped up behind a "Wild "West novel. Butcher told him 
Leigh-Mallory’s ne\vs. ‘Am I glad!’ breathed the General. 

Admiral Ramsay reported that the naval part of the show 
was 100 per cent successful, wth few losses. In fact, the landings 
had taken the Germans entirely by surpnse. Ramsay had craftily 
sent a decoy convoy up through the Channel late on the eve 
of D-Day. The German coastal gunners had opened up with 
evciy'thing they had on the unfortunate decoy convoy and then 
shut do^vn for the night, ^\^lercupon the real invasion armada 
sailed immolcsted right to its goal. 

At breakfast that D-Day morning. General Eisenho%ver w'as 
animated and happy for the first time in months. He talked to 
Butcher about other D-Days he’d been on - North Africa, which 
he directed from Gibraltar, Pantelleria, Sicily, which he directed 


THE INVASION 


57 

from Malta, and Salerno. Compared to these, said the General, 
the invasion of France had produced the quietest D-Day of all. 

The weather remained his biggest worry, and even before 
Butcher had called him he had been out of his caravan, peering 
up at the skies through the trees. As the sun began occasionally 
to peep through the clouds he relaxed. 

At ^e nerve centre of shaef there was one c hillin g moment 
that morning, when the first signal came firom the beaches. It 
was rushed to the staflF chiefs They opened the message and 
read that the first assault wave had drowned. Faces went white. 
Then someone asked hurriedly for a repeat of the message. For 
a mmute or two they umted. Tlien came the repeat There had 
been a mistake. The correct message was that the first assault 
wave had grounded. 

'W'ithin 48 hours of H-Hour, the mvasion spearhead had 
established a foothold in France. And without the fidghtful toll 
of casualties which professional pessimists had predicted. 

On D-pIus-six, a week after the invasion began, more than 
500 square miles of Europe had been occupied by Alhed armies. 
The lives of many of our bravest and best were yet to be taken. 
But the bndgehead mto France had been established. 

\Miat Phihp of Spam failed to do, what Napoleon tried and 
failed to do, what Hitler never had the courage to do, the Alhed 
armies under General Eisenhower had dared and done. 


II. ARMADA IN ACTION 
The Channel Crossing in the Flagship 

FREDERIC SONDERN, JR 

This was It - D-Day and almost H-Hour. A few' miles ahead on 
the low-lvdng coast of France, not far from Cherbourg, a light- 
house wdnked peacefully. The bndge telegraph tmkled and our 
engines stopped throbbmg. The anchor chain rattled through 
its hawsehole. Our w'histle roared a hoarse signal and all around 
us the silhouettes of dozens of other ships came to rest It was 
very quiet there in the moonlight, much too quiet, I thought, as 
w e ivaited for the first German gun to blast its challenge from 
the shore 



58 reader’s digest omnibus 

They could hardly believe it in the wardroom of the flagship. 
Turning from a big wall chart, the Admiral’s navigation ofiiccr 
shut his dividers with a snap. ‘On the nose, by Godl’ he an- 
nounced. The intelligence officer rubbed his head. ‘Not a smell 
of them all the way across,’ he said, ‘and if they knew we vere 
here, they’d have opened up already.’ The Chief of Staff smiled 
his wry smile. ‘Maybe they’re just waiting to give us a surpnse 
when they get us figured out. ’iVe can’t be that good.’ But he 
was wrong. The big German coastal batteries remained silent, 
and as nerve-racking minutes ticked by, the battleships, trans- 
ports and landing-craft of our task force slipped into their 
exactly prearranged positions unmolested. 

It was very quiet in the ship, too. "We had been steaming all 
day on a long, zigzag course, designed to make the Germans 
think us heading for Pas de Calais rather than the Cherbourg 
peninsula. Spirits were gay during the morning. The long, dull 
months of training were over at last, and the colossal spectacle 
we were watching took our imnds off what lay ahead. Troops 
lined the rails as we picked up unit after unit of our tremendous 
convoy. At various meeting-places along the coast there were 
endless rows of waddling tank and infantry landing ships - their 
barrage balloons bobbing crazily in the sky above them - flanked 
by escort craft of every land. 

And then over the horizon came the impressive line of our 
supporting warships. A deft manoeuvre brought us into column 
ahead of the battleship Kevada and the cruisers Tuscaloosa and 
Quincy. The big guns bristling behind us looked very good. 
‘Gee,’ said a young soldier standing next to me, ‘that’s a lot of 
cannons.’ 

I agreed happily that it certainly was a lot of cannons. 

As the afternoon wore on, tension grew. Eveiybody was being 
very polite. But there were no jitters, no traces of hysteria. A 
leathery marine colonel, veteran of many battles, managed a 
wintry smile and said that, for green troops, the kids looked 
pretty promising. From him, that was praise mdeed. 

Wlien an alarm bell suddenly began to clang and a bosun’s 
rasping v'oice came over the intercom — ‘All hands man your 
battle stations'’ - the call to General Quarters w'as welcome 
relief. There really was a Nazi plane ahead this time. It was 
10.30 p.m. 


THE INVASION 


59 

In the combat intelligence room -nerve centre of the 
Admiral’s command post - a vast picture of the big crossing 
was unfolding. We were one of tivo mvasion forces - American, 
under Rear Admiral Alan Kirk, U.S N., and British, under Sir 
Philip Vian, Royal Navy. Five thousand ships were moidng 
across the English Channel, assembled from several dozen ports 
and routed on exact schedule through narrow lanes swept and 
marked by minesiveepers several hours before The two task 
force commanders were link ed with each other and the supreme 
headquarters ashore by the most intricate military communica- 
tions sj'stem ever devised. There was surprisingly little activity, 
however. The operation plan covered all details of every' ship’s 
movements and it worked like a clock. 

It was about 1.30 in the morning of 6 June when an officer in 
the combat intelhgence room suddenly barked ‘Two hundred 
planes coming over.’ ‘Enemy?’ shnUed a young officer. ‘No,’ 
said the commander, ‘they’ll be the airborne boys.’ 

And they were. One, two, three, and then score after 
score of the big transports thundered by overhead. On the 
pemnsula German flak began roaring and searchhghts swept 
the sky. 

A few minutes later, the commander turned to the radioman 
momtoring German military stations, alert for the first sudden 
burst of activity. ‘"Well?’ he asked. We held our breaths ‘Still 
very light traffic, sir,’ said the British expert, reading a ’Western 
thriller as he tividdled his dials. He was very efficient, and he 
always caught everythmg worth catching, but he considered the 
ivar, as he told me, a very dull way of eammg one’s living. He 
ivasn’t at all disturbed, as I w'as, about the danger of German 
searchlights picking us up. Fortunately, w’hen they started 
poking around, the beams were deflected by clouds, and the 
Nazis appcirently decided it was just another air raid. The 
coastal battenes which could have given us temble punishment 
were still silent 

We knew that just then airborne divisions were going down. 
Parachutists went dowm first, to clear strategic fields of the poles 
and other traps which the Germans had set for ghders The 
parachutists worked quickly with grenades and mine detectors, 
but the glidermen suffered casualties nevertheless. 

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THE INVASION 


6l 


one direction, his gun in the other — our hearts \\ent into our 
throats. ’iVas this going to be the catastrophe we had just 
avoided in the Sicilian landing? 

Somehow at last the landmg-craft were loaded. The bleak 
strained faces at command positions began to relax. At 5 40 - 
as though at touch of a button - the warships ahead of us 
began belloiving. Our teeth rattled as flash followed flash and 
shells of every cahbre whined from the battleships, crmsers 
and destroyers on to the beach. Over the whole assault area, 
600 guns m 80 ships put doivn 2,000 tons of explosives m ten 
minutes. 

Actually both the bombmg and the naval gunnery were the 
most carefully prepared and co-ordmated barrage of the war. 
On the highly important chart m the war-room which scheduled 
the attack of every bomber squadron and the fire of every ship 
in our task force, German positions and battenes were marked. 
Their priority for attention had been decided according to 
their size, range and abihty to mterfere with our operation. 
One coastal battery particularly, set in the side of a hill and 
practically invulnerable to air attack, could have mauled 
us badly while unloading. ‘That one, gentlemen,’ the Admiral 
had said at pre-D-Day briefing, ‘is a must.’ Salvos of 14-mch 
shells from one of our battleships began hitting it precisely 
on schedule and, when a ranger party arrived a little later 
for mopping-up, they found not one hve German in the 
fortification. 

Small, slow spottmg planes cruised lazily over the target 
areas, their observers talking directly to their fire-control officers 
afloat and correcting aim as the shells came over. It w as beautiful 
shooting and at almost regular inter\'als the commander in our 
inteUigence room put a new sticker against one of the red rings 
on the chart. ‘Destroyed’, it said 

Behind this curtain, the loaded landing boats formed exactly 
spaced waves for the final run to the beach. Heading them. 
Navy scouts in control craft found the exact boundaries of 
assigned beaches - no easy job in the dust and smoke of a 
bombardment ivhich had blasted almost every recognisable 
landmark, and in the teeth of machme-gun and \'icious mortar 
fire. The scouts guided m demohtion crews of the Naval beach 
battahon, w'ho with thear bombs and Bangalore torpedoes, had 



62 


reader’s digest omnibus 

to blast a way through the maze of hedgehog-like steel struc- 
tures, up-piled rails, barbed wire and mines. We could see them 
calmly paddling boats and setting their charges, wth lead and 
steel slapping the water all around them. The leaders of this 
toughest job were men wth Mediterranean experience, but the 
rest were boys being shot at for the first time. 

Through cleared channels came hke clockwork the personnel 
landing-craft loaded with troops, and tank landing-craft, with 
tanks firing from them. Over Aeir heads and from the flanks, 
rocket craft sent fantastic salvos swishing, to explode mines on 
shore ivith their closely-patterned miniature earthquakes and to 
tear open barbed wire. Small, fast rocket craft, motor torpedo 
boats, flak ships and destroyers close inshore poured a last burst 
of drenching fire, then agam as by clockwork the curtain lifted 
and the leading landing-craft rammed their bows into the sand, 
to drop ramps and discharge line after line of crouching, miming, 
firing men and roaring tanks. 

It was H-Hour and the invasion had begun. 

Behind some of the beaches in the hours just before and after 
H, bad luck and mistakes caused heavy losses. One airborne 
outfit stmek an area which the Germans happened to be using 
for anti-invasion manoeuvres. Nazi machine-gunners were in 
place and waiting as the Allied troops stepped out of the gliders. 
In one beach sector, the landing force stmek an accidental 
last-minute German troop concentration. 

The weather was not at all co-operative. Four-foot waves 
delayed troop loading and landing at some places by over 6o 
minutes past schedule. By that time, the fast Normandy tide 
had dropped sharply, the landing-craft grounded far out and 
left men w’ading through four feet of water and under leaden 
hail without cover. The delay let the Germans regroup their 
artillcr)' and it cost us lives, but it did not give them time to 
bring up sizeable reinforcements which might have caused 
disaster. 

On the whole, however, surprise was complete. The Germans 
had, as a gold-braided wit said, been ‘caught with their Panzers 
down.’ The American and Royal Navies had fulfilled Admiral 
Ramsay’s promise to Eisenhower — ‘We will land you there to 
the inch.’ ‘The miracle,’ as Ernie Pyle wTote, ‘of landing there 
at all’ had been accomplished. 



THE INVASION 


63 


III. BEACH-HEAD PANORAMA 
A graphic stoiy ranking wtlk war's most brilliant reporting 
IRA WOLFERT 

This Normandy beach-head of ours is the fourth beach-head I 
have been on in the last two years. All beach-heads are unlike 
anything else on earth. Thousands of thmgs are going on at 
once, from life to death, from hysterical triumph to crushing 
failure. Night is different from day only because the light is 
poorer, the tracer bullets more lund, the waves creamier and 
your particular task either harder or easier You work until 
your job is done or your superior feels too exhausted to uork 
you any longer Then you sleep until prodded awake by 
explosions or bullets or some other urgency 

Our first view of France, fi-om the U.S. Coast Guard troop 
transport that earned us across the Channel, was that reflected 
by anti-aircraft shells hghtmg up the night above Normandy 
It was a little past i a m. on D-Day, and paratroopers were 
beginmng to land, their planes showered by whole buckets of 
blazing shells and golf-ball flak One plane went dowm, then 
another and another, in plain sight of our ship, while our men 
stood silently in the darkness, their faces gnm and their hearts sick. 

The transport anchored about 1 1 miles offshore, and at daum 
after a terrific naval and air bombardment of the beaches, we 
transferred to small boats for the landing The boats were being 
thrown five and ten feet into the air and digging deep into the 
troughs between the waves, and the leap from the slippery* 
ladder to a greasy hatch had to be timed mcely. 

To the right and left and ahead and behind, farther than a 
man could see, the scene was the same - a spreading mass of 
ships lying-to, waiting patiently as cows to be unloaded, each 
deep-laden and teemmg ivith men and goods. The w’aters 
between them w^ere teeimng too, with small boats threading 
back and forth and hanging to the sides of the larger vessels like 
the metal spangles of a tambounne 

"We passed under a sky full of aeroplanes laid layer upon la> er 
on top of each other. 'We passed w'arships bombarding the 
enemy, and saiv the splashes of enemy shells trying to hit the 



64 reader’s digest omnibus 

ships. An inferno was brewing on the beach: smoke w’as clotting 
up from it, and blinding white and orange blasts of explosion 
flickered hotly. 

Then the war reached out a giant paw and struck dead ahead 
of us. There was a big explosion. Grey smoke and white water 
rose hundreds of feet into the air. Out of its centre a mortally 
stricken minesweeper plunged and tilted, bleeding oil in spouts 
as if an artery had been severed. Then it righted itself and lay 
quietly, with the big, gaseous-looking bubbling that ships make 
when they die. 

Standing by to pick up survivors we came first to those who 
had been blown farthest by the explosion. They were all dead. 
‘Leave the dead and take the living first,’ cried Lieutenant John 
Tripson. 

And then, from all over the sea around us, sounding small 
and childlike in the wild world of waters, came cries of ‘Help! 
Help!’ and one startling, pathetic cry of ‘Please help me!’ 

Big John Tripson is a Mississippi boy who used to play foot- 
ball for the Detroit Lions. His strength came in handy now. The 
wet boys in the sea with all they had on them weighed up to 
300 pounds. Big John reached out and scooped them up wth 
one hand, holding on to the boat with the other. We fished six 
out of the water, t\vo of them umnjurcd, taking only the hving 
and leaving the dead awash like derelicts in the unheeding sea. 
One man was naked. Every stitch of clothing, including his 
shoes and socks, had been blown off and his body was welted all 
over as if he had been thrashed by a cat-o’-ninc-tails. 

Other rescue ships had come alongside the minesweeper now, 
and we stood out again on our mission. Close to us was the U.S. 
Cruiser Tuscaloosa. A German battery had challenged her, and 
she and an American destroyer had taken up the challenge. The 
Germans were using a very fine smokeless powder that made it 
impossible to spot their gun sites unless one happened to be 
looking right there when the muzzle flash gave them away. 
They also had some kind of bellows arrangement that puffed 
out a billow’ of gun smoke from a position safely removed 
from the actual batteiy'. This was to throw off the spotters, but 
their best protection was the casements of earth-and-concrcte 
I2i feet thick. 

The ‘affair between the battery and the warships had the 


THE INVASION 


65 

colour of a duel to it. ^NTien the Germans threiv doivn the 
gauntlet you could see the gauntlet splash in the water. It ivas a 
range-findmg shell. Then the shells started walking towards our 
warship, m a straight line If you foUoived them on back you 
would eventucilly get to the battery. This was what our warship 
commanders were trymg to do. It w^as a race between skills. If 
the CJermans landed on the ship before our gunners could plot 
the line of their shells, then they would win. Tf our gunners 
could calculate more rapidly, then w'e would win. 

Captam Waller, m command of the Tuscaloosa, held his 
$15,000,000 warship steady, settmg it up as bait to keep the 
Germans shooting w’hile his gunners ivorked out their calculations. 

The destroyer - 1 could not identify it - stuck right with our 
cruiser. The splashes kept commg closer. Our ships did not 
move. The splashes started at 500 yards off and then went 
quickly to 300 yards Now, I thought, the warships would move 
But they remained silent and motionless The next salvo w'as 
200 yards off. The next one w'ould do it, the next one would get 
them, I was thinking The next salvo blotted out the sides of 
the vessels m a whip of white water, throwing a cascade across 
the deck of the Tuscaloosa. 

Now' m this final second the race was at its climax The 
Germans knew our ships would move. They had to guess which 
way, they had to race to correct range and deflection for the 
next salvo. Our ships had to guess what the Germans would 
think, and do the opposite. 

The destroyer had one little last trick up its sleeve. And that 
tipped the whole duel our ivay. Its black gang down below 
mixed rich oil fuel, and a gust of black smoke poured out of the 
stacks. The ship had turned into the wind, so that the smoke w'as 
earned backwards. The Germans could not tell whether it 
was the ivind doing that or the destroyer’s fon\ard speed. They 
decided that it was fonvard speed and swung their guns, and 
straddled perfectly the position the destroyer would have occu- 
pied had it gone forward. But the destroyer had re\*ersed engines 
and gone backwards 

Now the game was up for the Huns. The warships swimg 
around in their new positions and brought their guns to bear: 
their shells scored direct hits, and the Germans lay silently and 
hopelessly in their earth. 



66 


reader’s digest omnibus 


On the first beach we touched the air smelled sweet and 
clean with the sea. Clouds of seagulls swooped overhead, filling 
the air with a whole twitter of flute notes as they complained 
of the invasion by American troops. There was bleak strength 
here, and bare wild, blowy beauty, and death over every inch 
of it. 

The Germans had so^vn every single inch of the soil with 
mines. In 24 hours our men had cleared only narrow paths, 
losing 17 wounded and one dead in doing so. 

They walked, slept, ate, hved and worked along those paths. 
^ATien they walked they put one foot carefully before the other. 
WTien they lay along the paths to sleep they put rocks alongside 
themselves to keep from turmng over. 

We had landed in the early afternoon. The \vind was dying 
then, and the black and grey smoke stood up in spires wherever 
one looked and hung in the gentle wind. Smoke came from 
planes that had been shot down and from mines being set oft 
by mme detectors and from American guns and German shells. 
Normandy seemed to be burning. 

Men were coming out of the sea continually and starting to 
work- digging, hammering, bulldozing, trucking, planning, 
ordering, surveying, shooting and being shot at. Amid the 
artillery and machine-gun fire, and the rush and smack of shells, 
you could hear typewriters makmg their patient clatter and 
telephones ringing wth homey business-like soimds. 

German prisoners were coming down one side of a road while 
American assault infantry were going up the other side. The 
Americans had that odd preoccupied look of men going into 
battle; but they were a fine, bold, brawny sight as they swung 
along. 

‘^Vhere are you going?’ I asked one of them. T don’t know!’ 
he rephed. T’m following the man ahead.’ The man ahead was 
folloiving the man ahead too. Finally I asked the head of the 
• column. T’m following the column ahead!’ he said. 

I laughed and he laughed, but he laughed ivith a jubilant 
sound. ‘"Well!’ he told me, ‘it’s not as bad as it sounds. We’ve all 
got the same idea in this army, and if you just follow the ntan 
ahead you’re boimd to get to where the doing is to be done.’ 

He looked very tan and healthy as he said this, walking along 
with a long-legged slouch, chewing a slab of cheese from a 


THE INVASION 67 

ration tin as if it were a cud of tobacco. He was a soldier to be 
proud of. 

Our men would go along until fired upon. Then they would 
investigate what was firmg on them. If ^ey had enough force 
on hand to solve the problem, as the military saying goes, they 
solved it. If not, they contamed the problem and sent for what 
force was needed - air, artillery or ground reinforcement. 

The first French people I saw were a family of typical 
Norman farmers - tall, blue-eyed, sturdy and very red-chewed. 
Amencan soldiers going up to the front had left the mark of 
their passmg on the household’s dimng-table - chewmg gum, 
hard candy and some cigarettes. We talked about the bombard- 
ment, and I asked how they managed to hve through it. 

‘An act of God!’ they said. ‘But the Germans, they were 
worse than the bombardment.’ 

I had forgotten what the French word for ‘run’ is, and I asked 
if the German soldiers billeted in their house had ‘promenaded 
away quickly ’from the bombardment They all laughed heartily. 

‘The Germans,’ one of the men said, ‘promenaded from the 
bombardment - zip' the way an aeroplane promenades through 
the air.’ The Germans were tough veteran fighters You never 
got a chance to make more than one mistake against them. Yet 
they were ■willmg to surrender and seemed only to want suffi- 
aently strong inducement. They were veterans of duty in Russia. 
The Russians seem to have made them very tired of the war 
They fight while they think they are ivinnmg, but it is not hard 
to hammer them into believing they are losing. They give up 

"WTien I returned to the beach more German prisoners were 
being brought doivn to await transportation to England. 

The bay and its immense weight of shippmg was spread out 
before them. 

A German officer, when he saw that vast mass of ships, lifted 
his hand and let it drop m a gesture of utter despair, as if to 
say, ‘WTio can ivin against tins’*’ 

But the thing I remember most clearly about this long day 
was a particular moment in the twihght. It is a picture frozen 
in my mmd - the way a scream sometimes seems frozen in the 
air. 

I was aboard a landmg-craft movmg both Amencan and 
German woundedfromthemurderous beach. The Nazi pnsoners 



68 



THE INVASION 69 

deck where the broivn-blanketed seriously wounded lay in silent 
rows 

As we made our W'ay out into the darkemng sea we could see 
fires springing up from the town of Montebourg The fires were 
the w'ork of the Tuscaloosa - or, as I found out later when I got 
aboard the vessel, more specifically the work of the army’s 
Lieutenant Joe Pugash, of Tampa, Florida, serving as spotter 
wth a naval shore fire control party, and Lieutenants Theral 
O’Bryant, of Tampa, and Wilham Braybrook, of Ohio, sitting 
deep in the ship. In the plottuig room, these boys had been 
talking to each other over the radio. 

‘German infantry is entrenchmg itself in the mam square of 
the town,’ JG said ‘Let’s gmger them up ’ The guns fired. 

‘Cease firing mission successful,’ said Joe. 

Two roads lead into Montebourg. The Germans were 
shovellmg reinforcements down from Valognes, Joe was chang- 
ing places to get a hne on these roads w'hen suddenly in a very 
abrupt way he gave a target and cried, ‘Open fire!’ 

Immediately aftenvards there was silence firom him. 

O’Bryant sat hstenmg to the silence from Joe for a long tune. 
A British voice from a plane overhead brought him back to work. 

‘There are transports coming mto town, troops getting out of 
trucks and taking up positions near a cemetery there.’ The voice 
was tranquil and most British. ‘Would you care for a go at 
them?’ 

After the Tuscaloosa had fired a salvo the Bntish voice lost 
most of Its tranquilhty. ‘Beautiful*’ it cned. ‘Oh, beautiful* \Miat 
a lovely shot*’ 

It seems that ten trucks full of Huns had been blowu across 
acres of field by a smgle straddle. The Bntish voice abruptly 
regained its calm ‘I’m afraid I’ll have to be off now,’ it said. 
‘My covermg plane has been shot down and a Jerry is shooting 
at me. Goodbye all.’ 

‘The best to you and thanks,’ shouted O’Bryant But he never 
heard the Bntish voice agam. 

Instead he heard firom Joe. The boy was back overlooking 
Montebourg. 

‘I couldn’t keep on spottmg for you,’ he explained. He 
sounded very tired ‘The Germans had us m a barrel for two 
hours and if I had lifted my head to see what was going on I’d 



reader’s digest omnibus 


70 

have got it knocked off.’ Joe began running around all over the 
place, spotting infantry positions, troop movements, observa- 
tion posts and strong-points. *you sure shot the hell out of them 
that time,’ he kept saying in his tired voice. 

About the time we were huffing and clanking past the Tusca- 
loosa, O’Bryant came out on deck for a breather. He helped us 
watch Montebourg bum. ‘That Joe is sure building himself up 
a hot time there,’ he said. 

The wounded to whom I talked gave some idea of what the 
day had been like. A paratrooper captain said, ‘IMien I landed 
I broke my leg. I had spent tivo years training, and four seconds 
after I go to work I’m out of it- 1 rolled into some kind of ditch. 
There the Krautburgers were shooting at me but they didn’t 
hit me. I waited in the ditch and thought. Well, your total 
contribution to the war effort is that you spared the time of a 
man in the burying detail by finding your own grave. A German 
started coming towards me. IMiat’s the German for Kamerad, I 
wondered, and remembered that Kamerad is the Gennan for 
Kamerad. Then I thought. The hell \vith that. I’m going to get 
at least one Hck in this war. So I killed the German. I waited 
till he got close and aimed for his groin and tvalked my tommy 
gun right up the rmddle to his chin. Then I passed out. But I 
got one. My training wasn’t altogether wasted.’ 

A Naval officer, suffering from exposure, said: ‘The whole 
stem blew up. You know, it’s a funny thing. There was a kid 
blown higher than the mzist. I saw him m the air, arms flailing 
around, legs kicking, and recognised his face there in the air. 
That kid was picked up later and all he had was a broken leg.’ 

A glider pilot, shot down behind German lines, said, ‘I 
walked all night. I went towards where the guns were shooting 
and then I met a Frenchman. I gave him my rations and he 
gave me wine. 

‘Boy, did I get dninkl I walked through the whole German 
lines - and our lines, too - drunk as a goat and singing.’ 

There is no way to record all the events that take place in a 
typical beach-head day, not even in a typical beach-head hour. 
There are hundreds of thousands of men in and around this 
beach-head, and if each made a record of what startling, violent 
things he saw the record would differ in himdreds of thousands 
of ways. 








THE HEART: 

WONDROUS AND COURAGEOUS 
ORGAN 

HENRY MORTON ROBINSON 

Don’t worrj’- too much about your heart, as so many healthy 
people seem to be doing nowadays; rejoice, rather, that Nature 
has placed m your breast one of her most dehcate yet dur- 
able marvels, an organ of surpassing patience, flexibility and 
strength. Rejoice, and trj' to understand hoiv it works It will 
work all the better for being understood. 

Borrow a doctor’s stethoscope, and hsten to the beating of 
your own heart. In its steady rhythm - lubb-duj&, hihh-dup - you 
will hear the sound of life itsdf as blood courses through the 
N'alves and chambers of this inimitable pump. For the heart, 
mechanically speaking, is just that - a pressure pump which 
forces the blood, uiA its freight of oxygen, food or waste, 
through the vessels of the body. If ever this stream should cease 
to deliver oxygen, the body cells would qmckly perish. 

Dnven by the heart, the five or six quarts of blood in the 
average human body makes a round tnp about once every 
rmnute In 24 hours the heart receives and pumps out again 
some 10,000 quarts of blood, and expends enough energy to 
raise a 14 stone man 1,250 feet m the air In a hfe span of 
the Biblical three-score years and ten, the heart lubb-</H^r some 
tivo thousand five hundred miUion times, without a single 
shut-doivn for repairs And - so it seems to one listening through 
the stethoscope - \vithout a rest 

Yet wthout rest no muscle can endure, and the heart is a 
muscle. Though brief, the pauses betiveen ‘dup" and the next 
‘lubb’ are rest enough. The normal heart, like man himself, 
spends tivice as much time relaxing as it does at work. Besides, 
the heart draivs extra rations. Though it weighs but i/200th of 
the body’s weight, it requires i/20th of the blood m circulation 
for itself. 

Your heart is about the size of your fist, and snugly enclosed 

Ftrxf publtiJied in *Tke Reai&^s Dt^esf in 1&4S 


71 



reader’s digest omnibus 


72 


in a tough protective covering, the pericardium. Attached to 
the body only by the great blood-vessels stemming from its base, 
it hangs mthin yomr chest, pointing diagonally downward 
toward your left breast. It is divided into two parts, right 
and left, by a blood-tight wall. Each part forms a separate 
pump. 


FRESH BLOOD 
SUPPLY TO BODY 


USED BLOOD 
GOES TO LUNGS 
TO PICK UP 
OXYGEN 


HALF MOO>l 
VALVES 


FRESH BLOOD 
RETURNS TO HEART 
FROY LUNGS 


LEFT AURICLE 



PARACHUTE 

VALVE 


PACEMAKER 


PARACHUTE 
VALVE 


USED BLOOD ^ 
RETURf^S TO HEART f 
FROM BOOT * 


RIGHT VENTRICLE 


The Secret Places of the Heart 


And each of these t^vo pumps, in turn, has two interacting 
chambers: the ‘auricle’, which receives blood into the heart 
from the veins, and the ‘ventricle’, which forces it out again into 
the body through the arteries. The heart’s speaalised muscles 
are so cunningly layered and interwoven that they can squeeze, 
twist and literally ‘^vring out’ the contents of their chambers 
at every ‘lubb’ - in other words at every contraction of the 
pump. 

What causes the heart to beat? This question, asked 1,700 
years ago by the anatomist Galen, was not answered until about 
1890, when investigators began to suspect electro-chemical 
energy. They were right. ^Ve now know that a land of electrical 
timing-apparatus called the ‘pacemaker’ normally generates. 


THE heart: wondrous and courageous organ 73 

70 tunes a minute, a tiny dectrical impulse which sweeps doivn 
and across the muscle fibres, causing them to contract. 

The heart, then, is a kind of dectro-muscular pump, con- 
trived by millions of years of evolutionforthe purpose of keeping 
the blood drculating in two mam circuits. One, startmg from 
the left chamber of the heart, is the great ‘systemic’ circmt, 
which the blood makes through the entire body for the purpose 
of maintaimng its tissues A shorter, mdependent circmt goes 
from the right chamber of the heart to the lungs to let the 
blood discharge its freight of carbon dioxide and pick up 
life-rene%ving oxygen. This is knoAvn as the ‘pulmonary’ 
circulation 

In order fully to understand the action of the heart, let us 
trace more precisdy the course of the blood. Dark venous 
blood, laden ivith carbon dioxide and waste matter picked up 
in its progress through the body’s veins, is drawm into the right 
auncle as the aunde hes momentarily relaxed ^^^len the 
auricle is fiUed, the valve m its floor opens downwards and the 
blood pours into the ventnde below. 

"When the ventricle is full, its smooth pumping pressure doses 
the valve, which bellies out like a parachute This same pressure 
simultaneously opens another set of valves (half-moon-shaped) 
and forces the blood out of the ventricle into the artery that 
leads directly to the lungs. In the thm-walled network of the 
lungs the dark blood is purified by exchanging its load of carbon 
dioxide for oxygen from the outer air. Thus freshened, the 
blood returns bnght crimson to the heart - and the marvel of 
pulmonary arculation has been accomplished in less than ten 
seconds 

Meanwhile the left chamber of the heart, more powerful than 
the right, cames on the next phase in rhythmic umson with the 
first Fresh from the lungs, the blood enters the left auncle ^\^len 
the aunde is full, the valve opens and the ventnde begins to 
fill. A fraction of a second later the ventnde contracts, pushing 
Its cupful of blood into the aorta, the huge artery that leads out 
from the base of the heart "SMien the pressure in the aorta 
exceeds the pressure from the ventricle, the half-moon valves 
between them close The brisk dup that you hear is the valves 
slamnung shut 

From the aorta, ividest of the nvers of life, the red flood 



74 reader’s digest omnibus 

branches out, ever more slowly, through arteries and arterioles 
and capillanes, to every cell in the body. 

The heart repeats this process of contractmg and relaxing, 
of systole and diastole, \uhh-dup, hxhh-dup, day after day, year 
in, year out, in disease and health, through sleep, love and 
battle, with the enduring constancy of time its^, with an 
efficiency not equalled by any of man’s inventions, and a 
courage that passes all understanding. 

j 

THE NIGHT MY NUMBER CAME UP 

Condensed from The Saturday Evening Post 

AIR MARSHAL SIR VICTOR GODDARD 
Royal New Zealand Air Force 

Since 1915 I have been a professional aviator and, though I 
have expenenced disaster by air, I am not given to premonitions 
of mishap. Yet as we were about to take off from Shanghai for 
Tokyo I was depressed. 

After two years in command of the Royal New Zealand Air 
Force m the Pacific and two more admimstering British Air 
Forces in Burma and Malaya, I was on my way home via 
Tokyo to say farewell to General MacArthur and other Ameri- 
cans with whom I had worked dunng the war. Adrniral 
Mountbatten had loaned me his own plane, the Sister Ann^ and 
her crew, both the embodiment of rehabihty. 

My depression was due to a forcbodmg that I was about to 
cany mto mortal danger all who flew with me, and to the 
knowledge that I could not, for want of justification, bid my 
passengers remain behind. As an air marshal, how could I 
possibly say that I’d been warned supematurally^ 

It had happened at a party the previous evening in Shanghai. 
I was talking with my old friend Brigadier General John 
McConnell, USAF, when I heard two Englishmen behind me 
begin a conversation which caught my attention at once: 

‘Wasn’t this party to welcome Air Marshal Goddard?’ 

Ftra pubhshed tn 'The Reader’s DigesT tn 1951 



THE NIGHT MY NUMBER CAME UP 


75 


‘It certamly ^v•as. 

‘He’s dead! Died last night in a crash.’ 

The man spoke wth a disconcerting tone of authonty. I 
turned slowly around The man, a Bntish naval commander, 
glanced qtuckly at my face and started as though I had hit him. 

‘My God!’ he exclaimed wth a gasp. ‘I’m terribly sorry'! I 
mean I’m terribly glad -that is -how extraordmaryl I do 
apologise! You see, I had a dream last mght. It seemed so 
true.’ 

I smiled. ‘I’m not dead yet. Commander, ^\’hat did you 
dream^ 'WTiere did it happen^’ 

‘On a rocky', shingly' shore, in the evening, m a snowstorm. It 
was China or Japan. You’d been over the mountains in cloud. 

Up a long time I watched it all happen ’ 

‘■\\Tiat sort of plane was I m?’ 

‘An ordinary' sort of transport. Possibly a Dakota.’ {Sister 
Ann was a Dakota.) 

‘"WTiat about the crew in your dream - aU killed too^’ 

‘It was a shocking awfiil crash,’ he rephed 
I was about to leave the commander when I decided to test 
him further on facts. "What he had said about geography and 
terrain seemed to fit too well. 

‘Did your dream show you w'hat sort of people I w’as travelling 
with^’ 

‘Yes,’ he said, a htde slowly. ‘An ordinary service crew' and 
three avilians Tw'O men and a woman. All Enghsh ’ 

‘Thanks very' much. That’s qmte a relief. I’m carrymg no one 
but a sen'ice crew. No civilians. By' the w'ay', I don’t know your 
name.’ 

‘Oh, I’m Dewing, fi-om the Creiy. I’m in harbour here.’ 

"We chatted aw'hile and mo\ ed apart. I ne\ er saw’ him again 
A few' minutes later Sey'mour Berry of the London Daily 
Telegraph drifted up alongside me and said, ‘I’m anxious to get 
home and would like to cadge a lift to Tokyo w’lth you. Your 
pilot said it iviU be O.K by him. Do you mmd?’ 

"Wfith a fe eling of shock, I rephed, ‘Not at aU. Plenty of room 
I’m leaving at half-past six in the morning.’ But m my' heart I 
feared this acceptance of Berry as a passenger 

That same evemng, George Alw’yne Ogden, the Bntish Consul- 
General, gave a dinner party for me. Ogden was questioning me 



reader’s digest omnibus 


76 

about my journey when his Chinese butler handed him a radio 
message. Ogden passed it to me, saying, ‘I am sorry to impose 
upon you, but I wonder if you can possibly take me with you 
tomorrow?’ 

How could I refuse? The message was from the Foreign 
Office; it was imperative that the Consul-General visit the 
Bntish high commissioner in Tokyo as soon as jpossible. 

I reflected: That makes two ctvilians. Englishmen. But therms no 
woman. Anyway, what bosh, wonying about a stranger's nightmare. 

Before the meal was over, the butler again presented an 
envelope. Another radio message. Ogden said, ‘You’d better 
read it. It’s from Gardiner, our representative in Tokyo.’ 

‘ I have no reliable conference stenographer,’ I read 

‘Most grateful if you could loan one for few weeks.’ 

‘Are you going to be able to help me on this tooi*’ asked 
Ogden. 

‘I guess I can take him,’ I rephed reluctantly. ‘That is, if he’s 
‘a man!’ 

‘Does that make a difficulty? He’s boimd to be a girl. I’m 
afraid.’ 

Three civilians, one of them a woman. 

That was a cheerless dawn at the Shanghai Airport. Consul- 
General Ogden had brought Dorita Breakspear, a tall, fair girl 
about 20, who told me she had never flown before. ‘But I expect 
I shall survive,’ she said. Her trusting remark stabbed me, and I 
shivered in the chill breeze off the runways. 

Squadron Leader Don Campbell, our captain, didn’t look 
particularly cheerful. 

‘Morning, Campbell. Got a good weather forecast?’ 

‘Not too bad, sir. About a hundred miles from Tokyo there 
may be a good deal of high cumulus - something like a front, 
perhaps. Should be about six hours’ flight.’ 

With that we went aboard, and shortly Sister Ann soared 
away over the sprawling city, set on her course for Tokyo or- 
perish the thought! Dewing had said this thing would be in the 
evening in a snowstorm. We should be in Tokyo soon after 
lunch. I was dog-tired. After a while I fell asleep. 

I could not have slept long when the bumpiness pf cloud 
flying awakened me. I was breathing rather fast. We must be 
high. The starboard wing was searing through the mist; grey 


THE NIGHT MY NUMBER GAME UP 77 

fragments seemed to be breakmg away firom the leading edge 
and flying away aft. Ice' 

Donta and Seymour were asleep. Consul-General Ogden 
seemed distressed wth his breathing: said he had a rotten cold 
in the head. Soon the light grew brighter. IVe were soanng 
bhthely in blinding sunlight. But there, clingmg to the shimng 
metal of the great, flexing ivings, I could see a thin layer of ice. 

Campbell came aft and spoke to me m a low voice. ‘^Ve shall 
have to keep above it. If -we go through we shall get heavily 
iced ag«im.’ 

*Yes,’ I said. ‘I noticed that. IVe must be pretty high now.’ 

‘Seventeen thousand ’ 

‘No oxygen aboard?’ 

‘No.’ 

After a while Campbell came aft agam. *We shall have to 
have another shot at gomg through it, sir. The doud tops are 
still higher, and we are now at about 18,000 I expect it will be a 
bit bumpy.’ 

In w'e went - into that swling, darkemng mist - and down. 

Campbell throttled back a bit. Then I heard the Crack' Thud' 
of broken ice against the cabm - ice chunks flung ofif the pro- 
peller blades. It grew darker. My watch said 1 1.20. That would 
lie only 12.20 Tokyo time. And that wasn’t evening! But how 
long before the ice would cease to snap away and, instead, 
suddenly build up a great solid shroud^ 

But there was no snow. Surely Deivmg had said there would 
be snow^ 

Once again those enveloping grey mists were suddenly flung 
aside. As if hurtling over a chasm. Sister Ann flashed mto the 
dazzling blue among the towering, billowing cloud tops. 

Ear pressures and quickened breathmg told us we had climbed 
again to heights where oxygen is rare. The Consul-General and 
Dorita were ill and famt from lack of oxygen. I feared for their 
hves They could hardly carry on much longer at that height. 

Campbell came aft again, a little grey in the face from fatigue 
and anxiety, but carrying a smile and an air of quiet confidence. 

‘Aren’t we above maximum ceihng for a Dakota^’ I asked 
‘Couldn’t ive let down a bit steeper now to get to warmer 
layers? We must be getting hght in fuel by now. That should 
lower the stalling speed if die ice keeps oflf. But you do it your 



reader’s digest omnibus 


78 

own way, Campbell. I guess we shall come through all 
right.’ Unless, I thought to m^^elf, we hit that rocJy seashore and 
shingle. 

Campbell smiled and said he would give it a go. 

We started down. Once more began that plimging, jolting, 
heaving, that was to continue unabated for yet anoAer four 
long hours. We bumped our way down, dow, into the wet, 
cold base of that towering cumulo-nimbus cloud. How dark it 
grew! Then I heard that vicious crack-crack on the metal flanks 
of Sister Ann. Ice. Ice on the props again. 

Then suddenly we were out of it - but nearly into something 
else! Those yellow lumps heaving there below were waves of 
the sea. 

And now ifs snocoing hard! Whafs the tinru? Three-thirty. 

Sea and snow. That was what Dewing had said it would be. Below 
us we saw the blackness of a snow-flecked cliff, with broken 
waves lashing white anger at its feet. 

The turbulence was the worst in my experience, and it 
seemed that Sister Ann might not withstand it for long. ‘W'^e 
followed the shore and after a while came over a bay. There, 
beside a rocky, shingly shore, lay a snow-covered fishing village. 
The beach was less than 300 yards of shelving shingle interspersed 
\vith rocks, and bounded at each end by black crags. No fit 
place to land. 

Out we swimg again to follow cliffs and breakers in that 
shallow, horizontal chasm of driven grey snow between cloud 
and surging sea. My watch, now at Tokyo time, said five-past 
four. It would be dark soon after five on a day like this. 

Then we lost the cliff. Fearing to butt into another headland, 
Campbell held away for a while, then edged in again. 

So it went. ^Ve lost the cliff. Found it again. Never a break. 
Never even a stretch of shore on -which to crash-land. 

Suddenly the cliff ended again. Visibility improved a bit 
Here's a hay. A milage in snow by the shore. Shingle, rocks. The village 
and bay we saw an hour or more ago. We must have Jlown all the way 
around an island and got back again. 

I loosed myself from my seat and gripped my way forward to 
the compartment. 

‘Let me see your map,’ I said to our navigator, Flight 
Lieutenant Anderson. 


THE NIGHT MY NUMBER CAME UP 79 

About 40 miles off the mainland there was an island some- 
thing like the shape of a hand pointing Sado, it was called. 
‘That’s It,’ I said. ‘And that village must be Takachi ’ 
Anderson looked, nodded. Then he said, ‘The nearest airfield 
is Tok>'0, the other side of the mainland. That’s nearly zoo 
miles, over the mountains and cloud in the dark. Not too 
good.’ 

‘And no gas,’ I rephed. 

That rocky, desolate shmgle shore beside the breakers down 
there was our only possible destination Just as Dewing had 
said. In snow and storm, in the evenmg. 

I turned to Campbell. He looked at me, smihng and deter- 
mined, as he said, ‘Bad show, sir, I’m afi-aid If you agree, wn 
must land on this little beach. No question of jumping for it - 
clouds too low and too much wmd ’ 

•Yes.’ 

‘IVould you land wheels up or down^’ 

*I think you’d shde faster and farther,’ I said, ‘if you kept 
your w'heels up and landed on your belly. But if you keep them 
doivn and -don’t crash the big rocks, w'e shall certainly turn over. 
IMiat about keepmg your wheels down ready to retract, and as 
we begin to slow up retract as quickly as you can’’ 

Campbell nodded, both hands strongly jo^hng the control 
column He was sweatmg. 

I went aft to do w'hat I could to protect the bodies of my 
crew and my companions. Everyone but the skipper should 
come into the cabin to keep the tail down. We’d be safer there, 
and qmcker out All must fix themselves so that they could not 
be thrown, and be s%vathed in blankets, covered wnth mattresses 
And so I saw to their dressmg-up for this queer play with 
death I, at any rate, was sure I wns about to die. 

ANTien we were ready two crewmen staggered aft to open the 
door so we wouldn’t be stuck inside. Off it came wth a sudden 
roar as the full blast of snow -filled air burst in 

The picture of what was going to happen in the next few' 
minutes had been in my mmd for the past 24 hours Now I 
could hear, above the roar of air, the hiss-squeeze of the wheels 
going down. Then down went the flaps, and Sister Ann banked 
close to the northern cliff, nose down for landing. The engme 
roar subsided. I looked round at Ogden. He smiled at me in a 



8o 


reader’s digest omnibus 


tired, pain-racked way. I looked at Dorita. Her eyes were closed. 
I couldn’t see Berry’s face. 

Banked over as we were, I could see the curving, shelving 
beach with its strewn, jagged rocks and a steeple of rocks at the 
end. Down we went, straightening out and flattening out at 
the same moment. Then the engine noise died out. High rocks 
sped blackly by to port. 

Now we are for it. 

A rippling, jingling soimd began. Wheels rippling swiftly 
over shingle. It grew harsher. The deceleration began. 

Let the wheels back, I prayed. But Campbell had. Sister Ann 
flopping down. 

Bang. . . . Bang! Gr-runch. . . . Oh, that stomach. Up* Somer- 
saulting. Belly pull. Stop. Neck-break pain. 

Hugeness hurtled by me, striking the back of my head. It was 
Ogden, seat and all. 

Motion ceased. Sister Ann had stopped dead. 

There was a stillness. Then the splashing flop and hiss of 
breakers on the shingle ... a quiet whistle of wind. 

*My chair came OS’!’ cried Ogden, almost apologetically. 
Unstrapping, we began to laugh. I went forward to Campbell 
as he was coming aft. We met in the gangway and shook hands. 

That night we sheltered in the httle inn of Takachi. As I lay 
on the matted floor, I wondered whether Commander Dewing 
really had ‘seen’ me, personally, in a state of total inanimation — 
dead. I must write to Dewing, I decided, before he forgets what 
he did dream. 

Months later I got a reply: 

I am horrified to hear about your crash. I remember 
our meeting and I vaguely remember that dream. No, I 
can’t say that I actually saw you dead, but I certainly 
thought the crash was a killer. Glad it wasn’t. 

For my next crash I want no pnor information. Quite spoils 
the enjoyment of flying. 

970^ 

When the librarian questioned the little boy’s book 
choice. Advice to Toung Mothers, he explained, ‘I’m collecting 
moths.’ 








JOURNEY FOR MARGARET 

A Condensation from the Book by 
W. L WHITE 

As I westled Avith my paclang, Kathrine said, ‘^STien you gel 
to London, darling, why not look mto the chances of adopting 
some children^’ 

■We’d often talked about adoptmg an Amencan child, but 
somehow never had. ‘'With all the Wtu* orphans and refugees, 
surely there must be some child m England — ’ Kathnne 
condnued. I agreed, and m my memorandum book wrote a 
reminder m cablese, ‘Uplook lads.’ 

» * ♦ 

After I had finished my work in London, I went to a society 
which arranges adoptions and I was told that a little boy and a 
httle girl would be brought in for me to look over. 

Suddenly the boy is there before me - five-year-old John, 
reddish-brotvn h3iir; holding in his hand one of those English 
schoolboy caps and clutching to his breast a shabby stufied 
lamb. He puts out his hand very properly, but doesn’t 
speak. But why shouldn’t he be scared and silent? How can he 
understand why his father and mother never came back to 
him? 

I give John my tm hat to play with and he’s puttmg it on 
when the door opens. There stands the other child, tiny and 
fi:agile, in a httle red coat, red leggings and a peaked pude hood 
over blonde hair. Her small face is pmched tight uith grief and 
despair, such an intense and naked emotion that 1 am almost 
embarrassed. ‘^Ve don’t know what to make of Margaret,’ says 
the secretary ‘She’s sulky, naughty and won’t eat.’ 

Margaret’s big black eyes, which do not quite dare to hope 
any more, rest on me for an instant. Then they search devour- 
ingly the faces of the women in the room, as primitively as a 
httle calf searching for its mother. Now she does a curious thing. 

Ftrst pui/ltshed t n 'Tl't Rea^ s DtgesC tn 19-(1 


8i 



82 


reader’s digest omnibus 

With one small pahn and then the other she brushes one dry, 
burning eye and then the other. A strange gesture. 

I become panicky. ^\Tiat do I know about children^ How can 
I tell a dull child from a potentially bright one** 

For advice I decide to telephone Aima Freud, daughter of the 
great psychiatrist, who maintains a rest centre for children made 



homeless by the war. She agrees to let the two children stay a 
week at the rest centre, to observe them carefully, and advise 
me which one to adopt. 

As the children get into the taxi with me, Margaret crawls 
into my lap -not as a child does with a parent, but as a 
frightened animal might creep into the safety of a cave. John 
sits contentedly beside me. He points out of the taxi window 
and laughs. ‘A bomb!’ Then he stands •with his nose against the 
•window, counting the bombed houses 

Anna Freud has transformed an old mansion into a wartime 
kindergarten in whose basement is an air-raid shelter where the 
children sleep. At one end of the room are bombproof cradles 
for babies. 

Margaret and John are greeted by gentle Hedy Schwarz, the 
kindergarten teacher. Again Margaret makes that eerie gesture, 
the palm of one little hand and then the other quickly brushing 
the dry, burning eyes. Hedy leans down. 

‘If you would like to cry, Margaret, why don’t you?’ 
Margaret stares at Hedy to be sure she means it, then her tiny 
chest begins to heave. 


83 


JOURNElr FOR MARGARET 

‘Yovl - won’t - smack — me^’ she asks. 

‘No, we never spank htde girls ’ 

Margaret opens her mouth wde and lets out a voluptuous 
wail. As Hedy, kneeling, draws the child against her shoulder, 
Margaret relaxes into the luxury’- of long, loud howls dripping 
with tears. No longer do the frightened palms force back the 
tears Hedy had guessed the reason for that gesture. After 
Margaret’s mother had been killed, she had been taken to a 
foster mother. Whenever she cned because she couldn’t go back 
to her oivn mother, she had been smacked. So you must never 
cry for anything you have loved. You must push the tears back 
into the eyes. 

‘Imagine - punishing a child for crying'’ storms Hedy. ‘To 
cry IS as natural as to laugh.’ 

At tea in the nursery Margaret and John won’t eat unless I 
sit ivith them. Between bites they look up to be sure I am there 
But why me, whom they have never seen before today? 

‘it IS because you are the link,’ whispers Hedy. ‘You brought 
them here - you saw and talked to the people they last knew. 
Through you they retain a hold even on the mothers who loved 
them.’ 

iVatch Margaret eat* Now that she had been allowed to cry, 
this child who formerly refused food consumes two helpings of 
oatmeal, a glass of inilk, beef sausage, toast, an apple 

When tea is over, the children have baths Then upstairs and 
into cots 

‘W’lll you sleep near us^’ John demands No, Hedy explains, 
Mr "White must go back to the hotel Both children begin to 
cry. 

‘I want him to stay wth us'’ wails Margzuret. So a bed is made 
for me m the room. After the children qmet down I stop to my 
pants and crawl mto bed. Six-thirty isn’t my usual bedtime 

In the night I awake. To the norh and coming nearer I hear 
a muffled hum -the desynchromsed motors of a Heinkel 
bomber. Margaret moans in her sleep. Presently the plane is 
directly above. John doesn’t stir, but Margaret wakes and sits 
up. I tiptoe over to her cot m the darkness. She stretches her 
hands out to me and I pick her up 

•WTien will it go away^^ she asfe Her arms are tight around 
my neck. 



84 reader’s digest omnibus 

‘Very soon,’ I say calmly. Only I don’t fed calm. If anything 
is going to happen, it should happen in a second or two. . . . 

Now the Heinkel has gone over, and the danger is past. 
Margaret rdaxes, and I slip her back into her cot. ‘Tuck me 
in,’ she commands, with eyes closed. 

!*! * * 

I have decided that I want to take both children to America. 
But when I try to get passage for the three of us it is impossible 
to get even one extra seat on the plane which coimects at 
Lisbon with American boats and clippers. This plane, which 
goes but twice a week and holds only eight persons, is England’s 
only link with the Continent. Americans have been waiting for 
months for places on it. Futile to ask for another seat even for 
one child, when they count all weight so carefully that I must 
cut my baggage down to 40 pounds. 

But wait! Have I got something there? Margaret weighs 
32 pounds, John 37. The Air Ministry agrees that I may take 
one child instead of my baggage, provided the child sits on my 
lap. But this means that only one child can go. 

Only one. Which shall it be^ With the help of Anna and 
Hedy, I at last make the decision. I decide to take Margaret 
She is a very unusual child, says Hedy. 

Next day I must take John back to his former foster mother. 
He comes sadly down the steps to my taxi, clutching the shabby 
little stuffed lamb he had brought with him. Where is the 
beautiful teddy-bear I gave him? Hedy explains in whispers 
that when she told him to pick out the toys he liked best he 
had cried bitterly and insisted that all the toys should stay. 
Perhaps because, if he left the things he loved, it would keep the 
parting from being final — then he could hope he might come 
back. 

When the taxi starts I lift him to my lap, but he does not 
look at me or talk, or count the bomb craters. He sits, lost in 
that sad, protective silence we call shyness. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

In the railway station people stare at Margaret and me. We are 
an odd pair -me in my old stained trench coat, a tin hat 
jouncing on my left thigh, my rucksack on my back, and in my 


JOURNEY FOR MARGARET 85 

right paw the tiny hand of a wee girl in red leg^gs and pixie 
hood. 

Once when we stop at a station on our journey to Bourne- 
mouth, where we are to take the plane, I go out to the platform. 
Suddenly I hear a scream of fright, and dash back to Margaret 
‘"WTiat’s the matter, darling? Did you think I was going to leave 
you^’ She nods solemnly. ‘Daddy won’t ever leave you.’ She 
fights hard, but tears gush and she bunes her head in the collar 
of my trench coat. 'That’s nght,’ I say, patting her sofdy, ‘go 
ahead and cry.’ 

When we amve at Bournemouth, I find that the flight has 
been delayed. So we stroll doivn to the beach. Breast-high coils 
of barbed tvire stand along high-tide mark. The bathmg-huts 
are piled ivith sandbags, roofe removed, machine guns’ snouts 
shomng. On the chfrs are more sandbagged gun nests. There is 
no opemng in the tvire through which we can get to the beach. 
So we go shopping in the town. Margaret’s outfit had seemed 
cute at first, now I see that it is worn, much too small, and there 
are holes in the soles of her shoes 

Margaret knoivs exactly what she wants - a blue coat, tvith 
matching hat and leggings. ■\\'Tiile I get my change, Margaret 
wanders to another showcase. There she spies Babar, a little 
stuffed elephant, exactly like the one in the book I had read to 
her and John 

Never after this is she quite so lonely. Babar has tea wth us; 
Babar always has a spoonful of Margaret’s cornflakes and a sip 
of her milk. 

Last night she had no other toy except an empty incendiary 
bomb case which she had insisted on bnnging along. It had 
fallen in her garden and had been her only plaything ever 
since. But tonight she takes Babar to bed ivith her, demanding 
that he also be kissed and tucked m. 

‘And you take the bomb,’ she says. 

‘Margaret, dear, I don’t need the bomb.’ 

Her face falls ‘I zbant you to have it ’ She prefers Babar, yet 
she can’t bear to think of the poor rejected bomb, sittmg on the 
dresser, not in bed with anybody. In the middle of the night I 
ivake, dreaimng someone is poking a gun in my nbs. I have 
rolled over on that damned bomb. 

* * * 


D 



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Early next morning we board the plane. Margaret sits quietly 
on my lap. On our journey she does well by a couple of chicken 
sandwiches, a bottle of milk and three stewed figs, from my 
knapsack. In Lisbon the good hotels are full. We are lucky to 
get a room in a tawdry inn down by the waterfront.' There is 
no bath in our dingy room with its double bed, a collection of 
porcelain vessels, and a peculiarly Latin contraption - a little 
white oval vessel on low, spindly legs. Margaret spies it with 
delight. ‘Look! a bathtub - just for Babar!’ 

Then comes a problem. ‘Daddy, I want to go to the lavatory.’ 

Here we go down the hall — a 40-year-oId war correspondent 
escorting a three-and-a-half-year-old girl on a matter of some 
urgency. Which door do we enter? I shrink fi*om invadmg the 
Portuguese dovecotes marked ^Senhora^ and we enter one 
labelled 'Hommi. There is a variegated display of plumbing 
fixtures, one of them occupying the attention of a stout 
Portuguese military man with handlebar moustache. 

He glances at Margaret, leaps like a startled fawn and, 
wildly adjusting his garments, retreats fuming with an indignant 
jingle of medals. 

Late that afternoon when we finish dinner it is dark, and as 
we stroll through the hotel lobby Margaret points and cries, 
‘Oh, daddy, look! What are those?’ 

She stares, transfixed with delight. Suddenly I realise that 
little Margaret has never before seen street lights : England has 
been blacked out since she was a year and a half old. 

The next afternoon the steamsWp line phones me that there 
is a cabin open on a boat for America. 

And after seemingly endless days we enter New York 
harbour. I struggle with Margaret’s customs declaration. 
Since she is an alien, all her possessions must be listed. Not, 
of course, her nightie or her toothbrush. So on the customs 
form I list, after Margaret’s name, her entire goods and 
chattels: 

I toy elephant (used). 

1 2-lb. magnesium incendiary bomb case (used). 

On the pier is Kathrine, waiting for us both. 


* ♦ * 



THE BASQ.UE SHEEPHERDER 87 

No longer, now, do we have to black-out Margaret’s room, 
closing every curtam tightly before she i\ill go to sleep, as we 
did in the first month. And at last she understands tliat no 
bombs ever drop out of the shiny transport planes that glitter 
overhead. 

Sometimes, it is true, old shadows rise. But they are only 
momentary and come far less firequently now. 


THE BASQUE SHEEPHERDER 
AND THE SHEPHERD PSALM 

Condensed from The Kattonal Jt'ool Grower 
JAMES K. WALLACE 

O LD Fernando D’Alfonso is a Basque herder employed by one of 
the big Nevada sheep outfits. He is rated as one of the best 
sheep rangers in his district. And he should be; for behmd him 
are at least tiventy generations of Iberian shepherds But 
D’Alfonso is more than a sheepherder; he is a patnarch of his 
guild, the traditions and secrets of \\hich have been handed 
doAvn from generation to generation, just as were those of the 
Damascus steel tcmperers and other trade guilds of the pre- 
medieval age. And like his ancestors he is full of the legends, the 
mysteries, the rehgious fer\'our of his native hills. 

I sat -with him one night under the clear, starry skies, his 
sheep bedded down beside a pool of sparkling w'ater. As we 
W'ere preparing to curl up in our blankets, he suddenly began a 
dissertation in a jargon of Greek and Basque. "WTien he had 
finished, I asked him what he had smd. In reply he began to 
quotein English the Tw'enty-third Psalm. I learned theshepherd’s 
•hteral mterpretation of this beautiiul poem. 

‘David and his ancestors,’ said D’Alfonso, ‘kneiv sheep and 
their w’a^-s, and David has translated a sheep’s musing into 
simple words. The daily repetition of this Psalm fills the sheep- 
herder with reverence for his calling. Our guild takes this poem 
as a lodestone to guide us. It is our bulwark when the da^-s are 

Firfi puShsM i** JThe RfaJer s Digaf in 1950 



88 


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hot or stormy; when the nights are dark; when wild animals sur- 
round our bands. Many of its lines are the statements of the simple 
requirements and actual duties of a Holy Land shepherd, 
whether he lives today or followed the same calling 6,000 years 
ago. Phrase by phrase, it has a well-understood meamng for us.’ 

TAc Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

‘Sheep instinctively know,’ said D’Alfonso, ‘that ere they 
have been folded for the mght the shepherd has planned out 
their grazing for the morrow. It may be that he will take them 
back over the same range; it may be that he will go to a new 
grazing ground. They do not worry. His guidance has been 
good in the past and they have faith in the future because they 
know he has their well-being in view.’ 

He maketh me to he down in green pastures: 

‘Sheep graze from around 3.30 in the mormng until about 
ten. They then he down for three or four hours and rest,’ said 
D’Alfonso. ‘When they are contentedly chewing their cuds, the 
shepherd knows they are putting on fat. Consequently the good 
shepherd starts his flocks out in the early hours on the rougher 
herbage, moving on through the morning to the richer, sweeter 
grasses, and finally coming with the band to a shady place for 
its forenoon rest in fine green pastures, best grazing of the 
day. Sheep, while resting in such happy surroundmgs, feel 
contentment.’ 

He leadeth me beside the still waUrs 

‘Every shepherd knows,’ said the Basque, ‘that sheep ivill not 
drink gurgling water. There are many small springs high in the 
hills of the Holy Land, whose waters run down the valleys only 
to evaporate in the desert sun. Although the sheep need the 
water, they will not drink from these fast-flowing streams. The 
shepherd must find a place where rocks or erosion have made a 
little pool, or else he fasluons with his hands a pocket sufficient 
to hold at least a bucketful.’ 

He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for 
His name's s(Ae 

‘Holy Land sheep exceed in herding instinct the Spanish 



THE BASQ,UE SHEEPHERDER 89 

Menno or the French Rambouillet,’ went on D’AIfonso. ‘Each 
takes his place in the grazing line in the morning and keeps the 
same position throughout the day. Once, hoi\ever, during the 
day each sheep leaves its place and goes to the shepherd. \\Tiere- 
upon the shepherd stretches out his hand as the sheep approaches 
wth expectant eyes and imld little baas. The shepherd rubs its 
nose and ears, scratches its chin, whispers affectionately into 
its ears The sheep, meanwhile, rubs agamst his leg or, if the 
shepherd is sitting dorni, nibbles at his ear, and rubs its cheek 
against his face. After a few mmutes of this communion with the 
master, the sheep returns to its place m the feedmg hne.’ 

Tea, though I walk through the vall^ of the shadow of death, I will 
fear no evil: Thy rod and T7y staff th^ comfort me 

‘There is an actual Valley of the Shadow ofDeath in Palestine, 
and every sheepherder from Spain to Dalmatia knoivs of it. It is 
south of the Jericho Road leading from Jerusalem to the Dead 
Sea and is a narrow defile through a mountain range. Chmatic 
and grazing conditions make it necessary for the sheep to be 
moved through this valley for seasonal feeding each year. 

‘The valley is four and a half miles long. Its side waUs are 
over 1,500 feet Wgh in places and it is only ten or twelve feet 
wide at the bottom. Travel through the valley is dangerous, 
because its floor, badly eroded by cloud-bursts, has gulhes seven 
or eight feet deep. Actual footing on sohd rock is so narrow in 
many places that sheep cannot turn around, and it is an un- 
written law of shepherds that flocks must go up the valley in 
the mormng hours and doivn toivards the eventide, lest 
flocks meet in the defile. Mules have not been able to make 
the trip for centuries, but sheep and goat herders from 
earliest Old Testament days have mamtamed a passage for 
their stock. 

‘About half-way through the valley the w’alk crosses from one 
side to the other at a place w'here the path is cut in two by an 
eight-foot gully. One section of the path is about 18 inches 
higher than the other; the sheep must jump across it. The shep- 
herd stands at this break and coaxes or forces the sheep to make 
the leap. If a sheep shps and lands in the gully, the shepherd’s 
rod IS brought mto play. The old-style crook is encircled around 
a large sheep’s neck or a small sheep’s chest, and it is lifted to 



reader’s digest omnibus 


90 

safety. If a more modem narrow crook is used, the sheep is 
caught about the hoofs and lifted up to the walk. 

‘Many wild dogs lurk in the shadows of the valley looking for 
prey. After a band of sheep has entered the defile, the leader 
may come upon such a dog. Unable to retreat, the leader baas 
a warning. The shepherd, skilled in throwing his staff, hurls it 
at the dog and knocks the animal into the washed-out gully 
where it is easily killed. Thus the sheep have learned to fear no 
evil even in the Valley of the Shadow of Death, -for their master 
is there to aid them and protect them fi-om harm.’ 

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence, of mine enemies; 

‘David’s meaning is a simple one,’ said D’ Alfonso, ‘when 
conditions on the Holy Land sheep ranges are known. Poisonous 
plants abound which are fatal to grazing animals. Each spring 
the shepherd must be constantly alert. When he finds the plants 
he takes his mattock and goes on ahead of the flock, grubbing 
out every stock and root he can see. As he digs out the stocks, he 
lays them upon little stone pyres, some of which were built by 
shepherds in Old Testament days, and by the morrow they are 
dry enough to bum. In the meantime, the sheep are led into 
the newly prepared pasture, which is now fi'ee fi-om poisonous 
plants, and, in the presence of their deadly plant enemies, they 
eat m peace.’ 

Thou anointest my head ivith oil; my cup runneth over 

‘At every sheepfold there is a big earthen bowl of olive oil 
and a large stone jar of water. As the sheep come in for the 
night they are led to a gate. The shepherd lays his rod across 
the top of the gateway just higher than the backs of his sheep. 
As each sheep passes in smgle file, he quickly examines it for 
briers in the ears, snags in the cheek, or weeping of the eyes 
from dust or scratches. "When such conditions are found, he 
drops the rod across the sheep’s back and it steps out of line. 

‘Each sheep’s wounds are carefully cleaned. Then the shep- 
herd dips his hand into the ohve oil and anoints the injury. A 
large cup is dipped into the jar of water, kept cool by evapora- 
tion in the unglazed pottery, and is brought out - never half 
full but always overflowing. The sheep will sink its nose into the 
water clear to the eyes, if fevered, and drink until fully refreshed. 



THE VICTORIOUS VRATILS 


91 

‘^NTien all the sheep are at rest, the shepherd la^'s his staff on 
the ground wthin reach in case it is needed for protection of the 
flock during the night, maps himself in his heavy woollen robe 
and lies do\vn across the gateway, facmg the sheep, for his 
night’s repose. 

*So,’ concluded D’Alfonso, ‘after all the care and protection 
the shepherd has given it, a sheep may well soliloquize in the 
twilight, as translated into words by Da\dd Surely goodness and 
mercy shall follow me all the days of ny life; and I will daell in the 
house of the Lord forever * 


SHC' 

THE VICTORIOUS VRATILS 

Condensed from The Progressive 
RALPH WALLACE 

I WAS visitmg the newspaper office in my home toivn in Kansas 
recently when an item came over the ivires saymg that Robert 
Vratil, a Marine rookie, had just broken the all-time rifle record 
at Gamp Matthews, California, mth a score of 242 out of a 
possible 250 IVe all knew Bob. ^Ve were surprised only that he 
hadn’t hit the bull’s-eye every time The w^ay his father had 
framed him, he ivasn’t supposed ever to miss a shot. ‘Must have 
had bad gun,’ his mother grieved - and w^e agreed 

I hadn’t heard any news of the huge and happy Vratil family 
for years How were they domg? Well, seven Vratil brothers are 
in ffie armed forces; one boy and one girl are in defence i\ork; 
aU the rest are raising food to help win the war. ‘The Vratils 
aren’t a family,’ a neighbour remarked. ‘They’re am army by 
themselves.’ 

Victor and Mary Vratil raised 17 children and they had 
wanted and loved every one. But it w'asn’t just the size of the 
family w'hich made the Vratils umque. Vic and Mar>% city-bred 
immigrants from Bohemia, had faced every problem Kansas 
could provide - crop failures, blasting storms, nunous prices - 
and emerged victorious We knew', without ever quite putting 

First pvllxif’ei <n * Tke lUadef^s tn 1944 


reader’s digest omnibus 


92 

it into words, that in our midst the American dream was being 
proved. 

In 1890 Vic’s father, Joseph, was a prosperous gimsmith in 
Vysoke Myto, Bohemia, Kving with a shoemaker’s family named 
Svatos. As a boy Vic learned the gunmaker’s trade and helped 
his father with a secret invention - a powerful air rifle. Austrian 
authorities heard of the new weapon, began to threaten Joseph 
Vratil. So he fled with his family to America and went west to 
Kansas, where he bought a farm. 

Kansans still talk of the drought of those next four years - 
1893-6- with horror. Not a single farmer in our part of the 
state harvested a crop, and half the settlers in the county 
deserted their ruined farms. But the Vratils stuck. Vic, a strap- 
ping young man, worked for other farmers, finally scraped 
together enough cash to make a down payment on 160 
acres. 

Visiting relatives in Chicago in 1900, Vic met a slim, dark- 
eyed girl of 18. ‘Mary, Mary Svatos!’ was all Vic could say. He 
had not known that the h^e girl he remembered at Vysoke 
Myto had come to America, too. 

Soon an eight-room house rose on Vic’s farm - and one night 
just before harvest Mary Svatos Vratil came to Pawnee County 
to stay. The first years were not easy, but Vic and Mary showed 
courage, resourcefulness and brains. 

They made a fish pond on their place - a wonder the whole 
county talked about. The state hatchery gave Vic catfish and 
bass ^gerhngs, and before long the Vratils were having two 
fish meals a week - no small saving in cash. Besides, every child 
(and Vic and Mary as well) learned to swim there. ‘If the 
children are to love farimng we must make the farm fun,’ Vic 
said. Skating on the pond m winter, with hot doughnuts waiting 
in the kitchen, made the farm fun, too. 

The Vratils raised every possible ounce of the family’s food 
on their own land. They put in an orchard, and then an irri- 
gated vegetable garden. Each year Mary put up nearly 3,000 
quarts offhiits and vegetables. But even this could not begin to 
satisfy the healthy Vratil appetites. Mary once showed me a 
record of the food stowed away by the family in a single week. 
84 wild ducks, a dozen chickens, four dozen loaves of bread, a 
slab of bacon, two roasts of beef, 40 pies, 16 cakes and a 



THE VICTORIOUS VRATILS 


93 

hundredweight of potatoes and other vegetables. Carefully, Vic 
and Mary figured out their needs: ten cows and 300 chickens 
to provide milk and eggs; t\vo tons of pork smoked or salted 
do^vn every year; additional pork to be traded to the butcher 
for fresh beef; flour and sugar to be purchased by the ton 

Vic, whose English was better than Mary’s, was abvays read- 
ing books on farming and on child care Somewhere he read 
that nuts were good food for children. Nut trees won’t grow' in 
western Kansas - but that didn’t stop Vic He became the first 
farmer in our section to grow peanuts. Nor did he neglect to 
plant a vineyard. In our harsh prohibition state, even the 
stnctest among Vic’s neighbours winked at his superb shemes 
and sweet Bohemian ^vines. He blandly ofiered them to every- 
one, wets and dries, W’ho came to his door. Wne was a ceremonial 
thmg to the Vratils. 

I first saw their farm when I went there as a small boy with 
my father. I can still remember Vic pacing up to our car a tall, 
dignified, stnkmgly handsome man \vith a brown Vandyke 
beard and pierang blue eyes The best flow'cr garden in the 
county blazed on all sides of the iveathered, comfortable house; 
nearby rose a little forest of seedling trees which Vic cultivated 
and later planted all about the place; overhead, great trees 
interlaced branches. As we stepped from the car a pet raccoon 
tried to climb up on my shoulder. \\Tien Vic let me shoot one 
of his hand-made guns, I was happy the rest of the day The 
whole farm, like the Vratils, seemed strange and foreign and 
wonderful. 

The Vratils loved pets Of all the farm ivives I have known, 
only Mary would not have screamed w'hen the boys blithely 
brought home 12 baby skunks and installed them in a front- 
yard pen. The Vratil crows, Mike and Ike, became famous 
throughout the toivnship. At school recess, the Vratil boys 
would whistle shrilly, and the other children’s eyes bulged as the 
crows came flapping out of the sky to perch on the boys’ 
shoulders. Once I sat in Mar)'’s spotless kitchen and w’atched in 
amazement as Butch, the only tame badger I have ever heard 
of, clambered on her lap like a huge, wedge-shaped house cat. 
‘Anyone who has the patience and kindliness to domesticate 
•wild things,’ Vic said, 'can learn anything in life.’ 

I hope I am not making life for this Bohemian family sound 



94 reader’s digest omnibus 

all sweetness and light. We were no more considerate than any 
other rough fanning town, and at first we contemptuously 
referred to the Vratils as Bohunks. That hurt. In the first 
years they must often have been lonely. Neighbourmg fanners 
laughingly told of neanng the Vratil place and seeing the children 
hide in the trees and chatter in Bohemian - too frightened to 
show themselves. One Vratil boy, although able to speak English, 
was so agonizingly shy he wouldn’t recite for his whole first year 
at school. Eddie, I think it was. Sergeant Eddie now, last heard 
of in New Guinea fighting Japs. 

The neighbour women may have laughed a httle, too, at the 
clothes Mary sewed for her children. But i6o acres didn’t 
provide much income -and 12 boys and five girls wore out 
nearly 70 pairs of overalls a year. Yes, and 51 pairs of shoes. 

Vic knew he must make more money. But the first year that 
he rented an additional 320 acres the Vratils stood on Ae porch 
one night and mutely watched a barrage of had beat their ripe 
wheat mto the ground. Only a bank loan saved them that 
winter. 

Again in 1927 hail struck for a total loss. That year Vic, 
always one of our most progressive farmers, had invested $4,800 
in combines and tractors. Another summer a year’s crop of 
stored grain went up in flames. ‘A fanner must never quit,’ Vic- 
told his boys sombrely, and went back to work. 

Although Vic could be strict enough, never did he lay a hand 
on a son or a daughter. He taught silently, by action and 
example. He divided the children into squads. Squad i - three 
members — washed dishes and made beds. Squad 2 did the field- 
work, Squad 3 the milking. Squad 4 looked after the chickens 
and vegetable garden. Each week the children changed chores. 
When the squads turned out at dawn, electric with energy, that 
was something to see. 

When a boy got to be eight or nine years old, Vic took him 
out after rabbit or quail. The lad would watch how carefuUy 
his father shot: how meticulously he cleaned and oiled his 
weapon afterwards. When Vic thought the lessons had been 
absorbed, one day he would point to the big gunrack in the 
dining-room. The boy would select a gun, and another Vratil 
learned to hunt. 

Many of the neighbours believed only hunting and trapping 



THE VICTORIOUS VRATILS 95 

earned the Vratils through some of our steel-hard %nnters. It 
became a legend in our town that Vic expected his boys to 
bnng home at least 23 rabbits for every 25 of lus shotgun shells - 
or else. One wmter Harold, Eddie and Henry teamed up and 
shot nearly 6,000 rabbits, netting S400. 

The boys ‘worked out^ to bring home extra cash. One year 
they organised an all-Vratil baseball team inth their Uncle 
Charhe’s boys and won the Tri-County League championship. 
That brought in some cash, too. 

Somehow, with ingenuity and faith the Vratils survived - and 
vsith thrift and hard work they got ahead. By 1930 Vic had 640 
acres of western Kansas land. 

Vic and Mary passionately wanted their children well 
schooled, and Pawnee County teachers still say the Vratil kids 
were the best mannered, most mtelhgent they ev'er taught 
Frank had to pause for three years between grade and high 
school to save a little cash. He won a scholarship to the Uni- 
versity of Kansas with a straight ‘ A ’ av'erage, and found time 
to captain the high school football and baseball teams, as 
v\ell. 

It was while the children were in school that the Vratils 
finally lost any lingering feeling of foreignness Maybe it was 
because the teachers praised the youngsters’ smartness, or maybe 
it was the kmd thmgs neighbour wnmen said about Mary 
Vratil’s cookmg on the da^'s she furnished chicken and noodles, 
or baked country^ sausage, for the hot lunch at the distnct 
school. At any rate, the Vratils came to towTi more often - all 
19 jammed into the family’s tv^o cars Mary v%as ev'en 
appomted to the district school board and began to speak at 
local women’s clubs - alwaj-s apologising for her somewhat 
broken English, but ahvays, somehow, making the most lucid 
talk of the day. 

The Vratils could v\Tn against everythmg, it seemed. Every'- 
thing but death. Helen, one of the prettiest of the daughters, 
died m 1935 Vic changed after that we didn’t see him in towTi 
so often. Then his health began to fail. More and more the boys 
did the heavy work on the farm. During the fall of 1939, when 
war broke out in Europe, he took a turn for the worse One 
night Mary w oke suddenly. After 35 years, the gentle breathing 
beside her had stopped. 



gS reader’s digest omnibus 

Vic had taught his boys to be patriots. Soon they to 
Mary, one by one, to tell her they had volunteered. Vic had left 
land and machinery and buildmgs worth about §30,000, plus 
§4,000 in cash, so there was nq anxiety about finances. And 
some of the boys would stay to work the farm. Mary wouldn’t 
for a moment stop the others from going. The long farm years 
had taught her that a job was a job, to be finished quickly and 
competently. The war was just a different sort of job. Proudly, 
dry-eyed, she said goodbye to seven of her sons. 

So today Roy is studying for a Navy commission as a ship’s 
engineer. Sergeant Robert is teaching Marine rookies the Vratil 
way of shooting; Corporal Lester serves an anti-aircraft gun m 
Panama; Eddie is an army sergeant; Leo, a second-class sea- 
man, is on North Atlantic Coast Guard patrol; Sergeant Louis 
fights in the South-west Pacific. And Frank is an Air Force 
lieutenant, herding a Flying Fortress through the skies. Irene 
and Gteorge are helping build planes, while the rest are farming 
or helping others farm. 

The Vratils, who began as ill-clad and penniless foreigners, 
sick with shyness m a strange land, probably feel that they are 
merely paying a debt they owe America. Yet it is America, I 
think, which owes them a debt: for a lesson m pioneer courage, 
for a rare and beautiful example of the fulfilment of the 
American dream. 


9m 


BARBED WIRES 

A comedian sent a wire to a lifelong rival on the latter’s 
opening night, reading: ‘1 can’t be there in spirit so 
i’m coming in person.’ Bennet Cerf. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once sent a tdegram to each of 
twelve fiiends, all men of great virtue and of considerable 
position in society. The message was worded : ‘fly at once; 
ALL IS discovered.’ Within twenty-four hours, the story 
runs, all twelve had left the country. 

F. L. Wellman, Gentleman of the Jvay (Macmillanl. 



tiTANIA OF THE AIRWAYS 

Condensed from Coronet 
ARCHIBALD RUTLEDGE 

The humming-bird is the tiniest feathered creature in all the 
worldj one of the most bnlliant m plumage, and the only bird 
that can fly straight up, doii-n, sidei\ays and backuards This 
faerie Titama of the airway's delicately feeds on the wing 
and spcirklingly bathes in tmy ponds of dew caught on broad 
leaves - a fljing flower fashioned by Nature in an inspired 
mood 

Nearly 200 yeeirs ago, Oliver Goldsmith, in his Hulor) of 
' Animated Kature, listed three or four hummmg-birds. \Ve know- 
now that, includmg sub-species, there are 638 recognised lands 
- the largest bird-clan in nature. It is distinctly a New -World 
clan, native especially to Central and South America. Eighteen 
species visit the U.S , but only one, the exquisite ruby-throat, has 
been ibund east of the Mississippi. He is the greatest wanderer 
of his tribe; on gossamer wings he makes, ever^' year, the pro- 
digious journey from the tropics far mto Canada, tra\elling 
along great sweeping cun-es at an approximate speed of a mile 
a minute. Moreover he can sustain his pace, for he makes a 
non-stop flight across the Gulf of Mexico, a distance of 500 to 
600 miles. 

From so radiant a creature, one would expect lo\ c-making of 
a celestial kind. And indeed it is. In a wide arc the wee suitor 

Ftm paiStsked tn Tkt ReaJer^s DtgesF i** 1939 


97 


gS reader’s digest omnibus 

sweeps up and down in the amorous oscillations of the ‘pendulum 
dance’, his brilliant plumage flashing forth colours from ruby to 
topaz, from emerald to sapphire. In a gown that is sombre 
compared to his glittering array, the female, perched on a twig, 
watches with elaborate indifference. But he dances tirelessly, 
sometimes varying his programme with acrobatic feats, 
until by a sign that he alone understands, his beloved accepts 
him. 

If, during these ecstatic manoeuvres, a rival male appears, a 
battle royal ensues; often one of the fighters will fall to eai^ 
vanquished, while his conqueror, almost equally exhausted, will 
perch nearby, panting from the ferocity of the struggle. But the 
boundless valour of the humming-bird is never so spectacular 
as when he ‘takes on’ creatures much larger than himself. He 
will assail nearly all the common birds, even the crow and the 
hawk -dashing exploits that put him in a class with David 
when he defied Goliath. His weapon is his long, needle-like bill, 
with which he is said to attack the eyes of his enemies. At any 
rate, such is the swift valour of his onset that I have never seen 
him fail to rout a disturber of his peace. A most astonishing 
display of bravery occurred one day durmg the courtship of 
two ruby-throats, as low overhead there passed the shadow 
of a great bald eagle. I could not follow the flight of the 
gnome-hke champion as he sped after this formidable bird of 
prey. I only know that the huge bulk of the eagle flared 
suddenly upward, dodged ponderously, and beat a precipitate 
retreat. 

Insects, often caught on the wing, constitute a regular part of 
his fare, but the hummmg-bird exists also on the nectar of 
flowers. During the course of 40 years I have seen him at work 
on nearly 50 different flowers. He prefers red to any other 
colour, so much so that I have seen him momentarily investigate 
the possibilities m a ripe tomato. He can be trained to feed on a 
thin syrup made by boiling for five minutes equal parts of water 
and sugar. Ordinary test-tubes make good receptacles, and are 
especially alluring if wrapped in red paper. After a humming- 
bird becomes used to the presence of a human bemg, he will 
often feed from a test-tube held m the hand. 

The hummer’s nest is a tiny masterpiece of architectural 
beauty, about an inch and a half in diameter. It may be as low 



TITANIA OF TUL AIRWAYS 99 

fort from the ground, and ac liigh as 8o. The intenor is 
lincti wlh cottony down from fern-stalks or other sources, and 
has the sofincss of \ clour. The outside is dehc<itcly shingled with 
lichens, stuccoed with hits of moss and wisps of bark, all fastened 
with fihies and strands of spider web. In strong light the nest is 
dimly iridoccni in soft shades of \cllow, red, blue, and dull 
urccii. Sometimes the lichens coscring the nest will be the same 
.as ihoseonthcsupporiingboughjproducingaperfcct camouflage. 
Indeed, it is usualK vers diflicult to distinguish a hummer’s nest 
ftom a Inot on a branch. Location is variable On the front 
porch of a home at Independence, California, an Anna’s 
liumming-bird h.is nested for i8 \cars (probably descendants 
of the original bird) on top of an clcctnc-light bulb, the nest 
Ix'ing fastened to the wire. 

I'lic humming-bird iiixariablj lax's two eggs, snow-white, and 
about as large as little peas, often more than one brood will be 
reared in a season llic xoung hatch in two weeks When thc> 
arc born, thev arc n.akcd. helpless, blind; and they curiously 
resemble insects llte mother feeds them about exerj' 15 minutes 
with food that she ha.s parti) digcstcil In about three weeks tlie 
infants arc reads to lc.a\c the nest, but first they tr) their wings 
Each babx lifts ns xvmgs and beats them until they form a halo 
about him, but he docs not at once me Manx otlicr ) oung birds 
f.ill out of the nest and flop about helplessly, but not so the 
xoung hummer xxho, after he has tested his xxings, takes sure 
flight. 

Hccau'e of endless xanations in shape and length of 
their xxings, not all humming-birds hum Some arc almost 
silent, a fact that renders them positixcl) wr.aith-likc. A few of 
the tropical species li.axc been heard to sing - a tiny inscct- 
hke thread of song Except for the zooming of their xxings, 
and the chittcrings of excitement or anger, they arc silent 
spntcs. 

Walt Whitman says that the marxcl of the joint of his thumb 
IS enough to confound all the atheists Let the sceptic also regard 
the humming-bird, the Titania of the boundless airways All 
tliat we can imagine of sprightlincss and delicate grace, of 
daz-zhng colour and faerie charm is found in this tiny favounte 
of nature. 



child pioneer 


i;«-=.diyo„a.e ■ 

^ Md John s 

PSrc^s^sSrS-- 

before an sistef 

^fi^ed eight •lvf^^l i. 'vhose h3/>u ' ®*3gger 

™PP0«ae%Vir'“? a 


CHILD PIOXEER 


lor 

brother and httle sisters scurrj-ing into the Conestoga wagon, 
kicked out the tiny blaze of buffalo chips, then looked to Carson 
for further orders. 

Carson described John as a sand> -haired, frccUc-faccd bo%. 
clad in a hunter’s red flannel shirt which came to his knees. His 
snake-sHn belt carried a knife and poivdcr-hom. In rcplj to 
Carson’s questions he said his father and mother were in the 
wagon, sick with the bloodv flux; that the remnant of the 
caravan to which they had attached themseKes was two da\s’ 
travel ahead. Carson told John to hitch the oxen at once and 
move forw’ard all night and as long the next da\ as his strength 
would permit. 

We next pick up the Sagers approaching Soda Springs on the 
Bear River. There w ere a half-dozen families in this camp and 
one of the men was a vet. On the edge of the camp John halted 
the oxen and asked for a doctor. He said that for two da)-s his 
mother had been too sick to nurse the baby and that he couldn't 
make the little thmg drink cow’s milk The \et chmbcd into the 
wagon He was out m a few moments. Both the Sagers were 
dead, he told the waiting crowd. John called the doctor a liar 
and tried to climb into the wagon, but was held back b\ a dozen 
pitting hands. 

The Sager orphans stayed with the caranui imtil it reached 
Fort Hall, a British trading post owned by the Hudson's Bay 
Company. The factor in charge of the post w as trying to prc\ ent 
American emigrants firom entering the Columbia Valley b\ 
deflectingtheminto California. Great Bnlain was then beginning 
her final struggle to retam her hold on Oregon Temtory. He 
told them that the wagon trail to Oregon, made the % car before 
by Marcus WTiitman, the missionary doctor, was impassable. 
The members of the caravan, already worn and discouraged 
and terribly afimd of Indian massacre, decided to go dow n into 
California. 

John Sager, squatting bv the camp-fire, listened without a 
W’ord to the coundl of elders His gnef for his father and motlicr 
had merged into one immense desire. E\cr since he could 
remember, he had heard his father talk of making a great fann 
in the valley of the Columbia, of helping to keep Oregon Terri- 
tory for America. John determined to go on to the Columbia, to 
complete his father’s life for him. 



102 


reader’s digest omnibus 


He would abandon the wagon; the oxen and cow could carry 
the packs of food and bedding. He had learned from an old 
woman in the camp how to feed the baby. The next morning 
he was gone, leaving this note: T have taken the family back to 
the States with Elit Carson. He is in a hurry. John Sager ’ By 
this false information he made sure he would not be followed 
and prevented from pushing on westward. 

There is a break here of several weeks while John and the 
rest of the children crept along the valley of the Snake River to 
Fort Boise, nearly 300 miles beyond. The Snake writhes through 
a tremendous canyon that slashes Idaho from east to west 
Barren plains, brutal mountains, scorching heat by day and 
chill by night, a pestilence of mosquitoes and fleas - a heart- 
breakmg test for seasoned adults. Yet, one September afternoon 
there crept up to the gates of Fort Boise a boy holding a baby in 
his arms. Except for ragged buckskin pants and still more 
ragged moccasins, the boy was naked. His sun-faded hair fell to 
his shoulders in tangled profusion. 

The factor in this one-man post was inured to all sorts of 
hardships, but when he saw John he uttered an oath of shocked 
surprise John asked with fierce eagerness if there was a white 
woman in the fort. Something had to be done for the baby: she 
vomited everything she ate. The factor, ^vith increasing horror in 
his eyes, looked doivn on the unsavoury atom in the boy’s arms. 
There was no white woman, and the factor suggested a nursing 
Indian mother. John declared that nothing could induce him 
to allow a squaw to wet-nurse the baby. Someone had 
warned him of the diseases a child would contract through such 
measures. 

At this point Francis came up with the pack-train and there 
disembarked such a rabble of void, half-n^ed little girls as the 
Scotchman had never seen even among Indians. He ordered his 
cook to feed the youngsters, and watched while they devoured 
the venison stew, gobbling and fighting like puppies. John stood 
aloof and chewed down a hunk of venison which he held m one 
hand, supporting the baby with the other. 

The factor suggested that John leave the baby and the two 
next sisters at the fort. John shook his head. Tlie baby’s one 
chance, he deaded, was to get through to Dr Whitman’s mission 
with all speed. The factor warned the lad that the baby looked 


CHILD PIONEER IO3 

ready to die anv minute, anyhow. John’s face flamed; he cursed 
the factor and began to sob. 

The Scotch factor afterwards set down his feelings in a letter 
to his mother. 

^ly letters to you have contained many strange tales, 
but none that Umted me like this They \sere a scourge to 
have about, I assure you, but nothing could lessen the 
pathos of them. That lad John! Surely our Heavenly Father 
must ha\ e been moved by this lad’s \-icarious fatherhood! 
Not that he ^vas a gentle guardian. He took no nonsense 
' from any of them. INTien the girl of eight protested against 
holding the baby, he jerked the sister across his knees and 
clouted her until she begged to take the baby. The stram 
had told on him. He isas all nen.-es and unable to throw off 
the torture of responsibility. Bv Jove, he ruled me too, for I 
sent them on, after a night's sleep, under the care of a pair 
of good Indians and flresh horses. 

They may have been good Indians once, but e\-idently they 
regarded the job of guiding ishite papooses across the difficult 
Blue Mountains as beneath their dignity. A feiv days out they 
disappeared, accompamed by the horses. 

^\*c have fei\ details of the crossing of the Blue Mountains. 
The oldest sister slipped under a ponderouslv mo\'ing ox and 
broke her leg. John used hard-packed snowballs to keep down 
the s\velling. The baby yvss very low and John was sometimes 
not sure she was breathing at all. He had to abandon the starv- 
ing oxen. The cow, uhich still pelded a small quantity of milk 
for the baby and transportation for the oldest sister, must come 
along. "With frosted feet, uith festering sores due to dirt and 
emaaadon, the children began the last lap of the joumev. They 
made five or six miles a day. huddling together at night like 
stricken Iambs under the lee of a rock or backed against a fallen 
tree, -warmed by huge fires. A thousand times during the trip 
the younger children shrieked that they would go no farther. 
John forced them to go on. 

It would have wrung my heart, but I \\Tsh I might have 
•ivitnessed the last lap of that immortal journey, though after 
my many daj-s with the diaries I can see it as clearly as if I had 
actually come upon them in those mountain fastnesses. 



reader’s digest omnibus 


104 

Now they have topped the last crest, and as they stand gazing 
into the vast valley to the west, the snow is bloodstained 
beneath their feet. Behind them is a chaos of range and canyon 
over which they have crept like infimtesimal snails. Before them, 
a wide, undulating plain cut by the black and silver ribbon of 
the Columbia River- A moment to gaze, to shiver, then John 
moves with fumbhng feet do%vn the mountain. His legs are tied 
in strips of buffalo hide. His long hair is bound back from his 
eyes by a twist of leather aroimd his forehead. On his back is 
the two-year-old sister. In his arms the baby, \vrapped in a 
wolfskin, lies motionless as death. 

Staggering back of John moans the cow, her hoofs split to 
the quick. On her back the eight-year-old girl huddles under a 
bit of blanket which she shares with the five-year-old. Francis, 
his grey eyes dull with himger and exertion, buckskin pants 
reduced to a mere clout and flannel shirt only a fluttering 
decoration across his chest, brings up the rear with the others. 

Stumbling, rising, panting, but in a silence more tragic than 
weepmg, they move down into the valley of the blest and stand 
at last before the "WTiitman mission. Narcissa WTiitman gave a 
little cry when she saw them and held out her arms towards the 
bimdle in John’s arms. Her only child, a little girl of two, had 
been dro^vned a few years before. She groaned as she turned 
back the wolfskin and saw what lay beneath. 

Dr "Whitman looked ivith her while the six yoimg derelicts 
waited in breathless silence. The doctor thought that perhaps 
the baby was stdl alive and Narcissa took her into the house 
and laid her in a warm bath while her husband herded the 
others into an outbmlding and began the unsavoury job of 
turning them into human children. All but John. He shook his 
head on hearing the doctor’s order and followed Mrs ^\Tiitman 
into the house. Bathed, rubbed -with warm oil, ^vrapped in soft 
wool, the baby showed no sign of life until Narcissa began to 
drop hot, diluted milk between the blue bps. After several 
moments of this the little throat contracted and a whimper, 
something less than a mouse squeak, came forth. At this sound 
John dropped to the floor, wapped his arms around Narcissa’s 
knees, laughed, groaned, then limped from the room. 

All that mght Narcissa sat with the baby on her lap. John, 
washed and in decent garments, slept on a blanket on the floor 


OBEY THAT IMPULSE 


105 

beside her. The doctor dozed on a cot nearby. ^\Tiat thoughts 
passed through Narcissa \\Tutman’s mind that night we cannot 
know. ^Vc do know that she was already worn ivith anxiety and 
ovenvork, and the prospect of adding seven more to her house- 
hold must have been staggenng Towards dawn she roused the 
doctor and told him that she wanted to keep the children at the 
mission. The next morning they imdted Ae htde orphans to 
become their adopted children 

And so the heroic odyssey came to an end. Littlejohn Sager 
had fulhllcd his father’s dream of makmg a home for the Sager 
family in the Columbia Valley, and of helping save Oregon for 
America. 

Today, corrupted by well-being, Amenca needs boys of John 
Sager’s quahty as never before m her history. WTiat can we do 
for the boy 13 years of age that ivill fit him to fill that need? 
"WTiat can we put into our machine-softened hves that shall 
harden their muscles, mental as well as physical? I do not know. 
But I know that love of coimtry is like love of man for woman. 
It is real, it is fine, only m the degree that it is based on effort 
and sacrifice. May we draw from John Sager’s blood and iron 
that which shall make of my son and yours hvmg monuments to 
his achievement. 




OBEY THAT IMPULSE 

Condensed from a Columbia Broadcasting S}stem Broadcast 
WILLIAM MOULTON MARSTON 

For years as a psychologist I have sought in the careers of 
great and of everyday people the inner springs that make 
for successful living There are tivo which seem to me of 
pnme importance: the first is hard work, governed by cool, 
logical thoughtfulness. The other is sudden, warm, impulsive 
action. 

Admitting that I can’t name a single person of true accom- 
plishment who hasn’t forged success out of brains and hard 

tn'7>e Readef^i Digesf in 1941 



io6 reader’s digest omnibus 

work, I still hazard the sweeping assertion that most of the high 
spots and many of the lesser successes m their careers stem from 
impulses promptly turned into action. 

Most of us actually stifle enough good impulses dunng the 
course of a day to change the current of our lives. These mner 
flashes of impulse light up the mind for an instant; then, con- 
tented in their afterglow, we lapse back into routine, feehng 
vaguely that some time we might do something about it or that 
at least our intentions were good. In this we sin against the 
inner self, for impulses set up the lines of communication between 
the unconscious mind and daily action. Said William James, 
‘Every time a resolve or fine glow of feeling evaporates without 
bearing fruit, it is worse than a chance lost; it works to hinder 
future emotions from taking the normal path of discharge.’ Thus 
we fail to build up the power to act m a firm and prompt and 
definite way upon the principal emergencies of hfe. 

Once, in Holly^vood, where Walter B. Pitkin and I were 
retained by a motion-picture studio, a young promoter pre- 
sented an ambitious production idea to us. The plan appealed 
to both of us. It was, I thought, distinctly worth considering; 
we could think it over, discuss it and decide later what to do. 
But even while I was fumbling with the idea, Pitkin abruptly 
reached for the phone and began dictating a telegram to a Wall 
Street man he knew. It presented the idea in the enthusiasm of 
the moment. (As delivered it was almost a yard long.) It cost 
money, but it carried conviction. 

To my amazement, a ten-million-dollar underwriting of the 
picture project came as a result of that telegram. Had we 
delayed to talk it over we might have cautiously talked our- 
selves out of the whole idea. But Pitkin knew how to act on the 
-spur of the moment. All his life he had learned to trust his 
impulses as the best confidential advisers he had. 

Behmd many an imposing executive desk sits a man who is 
there because he learned the same lesson. You’ve probably seen 
him in action more than once. Somebody is presenting to him a 
new idea, say in employee relations. It calls for extensive changes 
in oflSce routme. And, decidmg instantly, he calls an associate 
and gives instructions to make the change - then and there, not 
next week or next month. 

^Ve envy such men the ease with which they make up their 


OBEY THAT IMPULSE 


107 

minds and smng into action. But this ease is acquired over a 
long pcnod of > ears Rather than being, as we sometimes thmlf^ 
a pnvilegc of their position, it is a practice that has led to their 
success. First in small matters and Aen in larger ones, they have 
acquired the do-it-now habit 

Former President GaUnn Coohdge remains an enigma to 
political commentators because the reasons for his actions were 
seldom apparent and the source of his astuteness could not be 
traced. No one could seem less impulsive than Coohdge, yet all 
his life he trained himself to rely on ‘hunches’. He was not afraid 
of his impulses, and the celebrated Coohdge luck followed a 
pattern of action based on them. As a young attorney m a country 
law firm Coohdge was intervieiving an important client one day 
when a telephone message informed him that the county political 
boss was in town. It occurred to Goolidge that he ought to see 
the local big-wg at once and propose himself as a candidate for 
the legislature IVithout hesitation, this usually shy young laivyer 
cut his legal conference short, left the ofiice and hunted up the 
county leader. That impulse bore firuit, and from then on 
the inner urges of Coohdge led him consistently to political 
success. 

It should be clear from Coohdge’s case that the person who 
follows his impulses is not necessarily flighty. The timid soul, 
however, is fearful lest impulse lead him into all manner of 
mistakes. But mistakes are mevitable - we are bound to make 
them no matter which course we take. Some of the worst 
mistakes in history have followed consciously reasoned decisions. 
If we’re right 5 1 per cent of the time m our impulsive actions we 
aren’t doing badly by any standard. 

The mistakes of inaction, flanked by heavy reasomng, are 
hkely to be worse than the mistakes of genmne impulse. For one 
thing, they make our mertia worse day by day Not long ago a 
woman whose husband had left her came to seek my advice. 
The difficulty between them appeared to be one of tempera- 
ment which could be easily adjusted. And the woman told me 
that what she really wanted to do was simply to call her husband 
up and talk with him I told her to follow that mchnation She 
left me somewhat at peace. But she didn’t mtike the call, and in 
a few days she was back again. Once more she left ivith the 
impulse to call her husband. Unhappily, she never did. And a 



io8 reader’s digest omnibus 

domestic rift that a few impulsive words on the phone might 
have healed finally ended in Reno; From childhood she had 
made time after time the mistake of letting her impulses die 
a-boming, and when the time came for a simple, direct decision 
in a situation that mattered, she was unable to act. 

We all know people who go through agonies of indecision 
before taking any important step. There are always arguments 
for and against, and the more we think about them the more 
they seem to offset each other, until we \vind up in a fretful 
state of paralysis. Impulsive action, which originates in a swift 
subconscious appraisal of the situation, might have saved all 
that worry. And when a painfully thought-out decision proves 
^\Tong, how often we remember an original hunch that would 
have been right! 

The way to get things done is to bring mind and muscle and 
voice into play at the very second a good impulse starts within 
us. I know a ivriter who was once engaged on a major project 
and was resolved that nothing could divert him from it. But he 
saw' an announcement of a contest for the ten best rules for 
safe drivmg. The annoimcement flashed a light on the panel of 
his mind. Here was something he knew about. He interrupted 
his job long enough to get to a library and study up. He WTOte 
250 words. He turned in his entry in his own typing, not want- 
ing to stop his stenographer from the bigger job. Months later 
that obeyed impulse netted him an award of $25,000. The 
project from which he turned aside for a moment finally brought 
him $600. 

Or consider the young college instructor who sat listening one 
day to a commencement address by Woodrow Wilson, then 
Governor of New' Jersey. The instructor had "wntten a book on 
political science, but had sought a publisher in vain. It em- 
bodied his innermost convictions and its apparent failure had 
caused him to despair of the future of his teaching. 

Something Mr "Wilson said made the instructor feel that he 
ought to seek the governor’s advice. He had heard that Wilson 
was cold and hard to approach; but at the end of the address he 
let his impulse carry him forward through the crowd; he grasped 
hlr "Wilson’s hand, and said rapidly, ‘Your speech was wonder- 
ful! I’ve written a book maintaining that . . .’ In a few pithy 
sentences he stated his theory. 


OBEY THAT IMPULSE 


109 

^Vilson shook his head. ‘No,’ he SMd. ‘You’re wrong. I’ll tell 
you why. See me after lunch at the Faculty Club,’ There for 
two hours Wilson talked earnestly. And under the inspiration 
IVilson gave him, the instructor uTote a new book. It sold more 
than 100,000 copies and launched him on a distinguished educa- 
tional career. The first vital impulse, half-hesitantly obeyed, 
was the starting-point. 

The life stories of successful people are chock-full of such 
episodes that have marked major turning-points in their careers. 
True impulses are intelhgent. They show the path ^ve can most 
successfully follow because they reveal the basic mterests of the 
unconscious mind 

There is in all of us an unceasing urge towards self-fulfilment. 
We know' the kind of person we want to be because our im- 
pulses, even when enfeebled by disuse, tell us. Impulsive action 
IS not to be substituted for reason but used as a means of showing 
the direction reason is to take. Obviously the path is not w’lthout 
pitfalls. To start suddenly throwmg ourselves around on impulse 
might be hazardous But at least w'e can begin responding 
oftener to inner urges that we know we can trust. 

IVe Know that in the midst of reading we ought to stop and 
look up a w’ord if the meaning is not clear. We know that we 
ought to speak more w'ords of unpremeditated praise where they 
are due. We know that we ought to -wriggle out of selfish routine 
and take part in civic activities, that we ought to contribute not 
merely money but time to the w’ell-being of the neighbourhood. 

Such separate moments of achievement are cumulative and 
result in ennehed living, a consciousness of daily adventure, a 
long-term sense that life is not blocked out and cut-and-dned 
but may be managed from %vitlun. The man whose philosophy 
is summed up in the feeble and indecisive motto, ‘Well, we’ll 
see about it,’ misses the savoury moments of experience, the 
bounce and gusto of life. 

Thumb back over the pages of your own experience and note 
how many of your happiest moments and greatest successes 
have followed spur-of-the-moment actions and decisions. They 
are renunders that only firom the depths of your inner self can 
you hope for an invmcible urge towards accomplishment. So, 
obey your best impulses and watch yourself go! 



AMERICA’S TREASURE ISLES 


EDISON MARSHALL 

On 29 June, 1 786, while cruising in the fogbound void ofBenng 
Sea, a Russian navigator named Gerasim Pnbilof heard a most 
pecuhar sound. That same sound, when I heard it 141 years 
later, seemed to me like the full-throated roar of a crowded 
stadium when the home team gets a goal. 

The hardy captain set sail towards the uproar. After an hour 
or more he discovered, through rifts in the fog, four islands. 
Two of them were no more than big rocks. The ear-blzistmg 
noise was caused by a herd of two million fur seals blackemng 
the shores and roarmg, blustenng, coughing and bleating all at 
once. 

Loading his ship with skins, Pnbilof sailed to Sibena and sold 
his catch to Chinese mandanns for what even today would be a 
fancy price. But when his agent returned for another load, in 
October, the islands were silent as a tomb, the beaches empty 
and desolate. 

The bold captain tried again the following summer. Again 
the seas were black -with swimmmg mother seals, long reaches 
of the beach were a sohd mass of fighting bull seals, the sand 
dunes were crawhng with young bachelor seals, and the \vild 
wheat was alive with /idle bull’ seals that hadn’t been able to 
snaffle any mates and were hanging about the harems in the 
hope of achieving that very thing. All were yelping and bellowing 
as noisily as before. 

Ftrsl pubUshed in ‘TPe SatdeT’s DtgesC in 1943 


no 





Ill 


America’s treasure isles 

The Pnbilof Islands have made history ever since. ^Mien 
Secretary of State Seitard in 1866 wished to persuade a penny- 
pinching Congress to buy Alaska from the Russians, the argument 
that chnched the deal was its value as the breeding grounds of 
the fur seals, yielding then about 100,000 s kins a year. Except 
for this treasure-trove the historic deal would have fallen 
through. 

At first America wasted this treasure m scandalous fashion. 
Almost free slaughter was permitted until the herd u'as three- 
fourths killed. Then to maintam the yield we permitted sealers 
to he off the island and kill the matkas (mother seals) as they 
came out to fish. By this practice three hves were taken for every 
skin - the mother, her unborn pup, and her nurshng pup left on 
shore to stari'e. IMicn the herd was finally reduced to a paltry 
150,000, and the beaches were httered with the wasted bodies 
of baby seals, our got emment took bold steps, prohibited pelagic 
seahng, and prescribed the number of surplus males that could 
be killed each season. The herd mcreased, and grew to nearly 
tt\o nulhon again. 

Naturally, other nations coveted this treasure of glossy fur. 
Up to their now’ faimhar tricks as long ago as Theodore 
Roosevelt’s presidency, Japanese poachers landed on the beaches 
and were imceremomously shot by U.S. guards. For this forth- 
nght act Teddy refused to apologise - bless his stout heart - 
and the little men of Nippon sis’ore vengeance. Since then the 
sight of our Coast Guard vessels patrolling the foggy, roaring 
coasts has gnaw’ed mto their vitals, and their jealousy and 
hatred w ould have been satisfied only by conquest of the islands. 
Our army and naiq' were on guard against an attack, if only 
for spite’s sake, on the Pribilofs during the war. 

kMiat interests me most about these fabulous islands is not the 
50,000 prime skins that the U S Department of Fisheries harvests 
every year, soft and beautiful and still an aristocrat among furs, 
but the social order of the seals themselves, developed a million 
years before the first human being spread a sail in the Smoky 
Seas. 

The fur seal is not to be confused wth the sea lion that 
performs in circuses, or wnth the hair seal found off New'found- 
land. He is distmcdy related to the bear, and he moves like one. 
Unlike any other seal, he can run on land nearly as fast as a 



1 12 reader’s digest omnibus 

man. The pups are not bom swimmers; they must leam the 
hard way, and many of them drown m the attempt. But the 
fur seals become the most beautiful and versatile of swimmers, 
and in speed are in a class with porpoises. 

Along in May, when the wild wheat begins to sprout on the 
Pribilofs, and the lichens drip with the spring rains, the bull 
seals haul themselves up on the naked beaches by the hundred 
thousand. They weigh five or six hundred pounds apiece, and 
are fat from good fishing in the seas of all the world; and it is 
good that they are, because many busy months will pass before 
they go again to sea, or even taste food or drink. 

At once there begins the biggest free-for-all fight in the whole 
animal kingdom. The giant bulls tear into one another, each to 
hold a certain little area of beach that has taken his fancy. 
Before long the best bulls have established their claims, but only 
by right of fang and flipper; and if they relax their guard for 
one minute even in the dead of night, the homeless bulls waiting 
in the grass ■will seize their homesteads. 

Yet the bulls do not usurp the entire beach. By an incredible 
arrangement among themselves, certain strips are left vacant, 
to provide safe passage for young male seals - as yet too yoimg 
and weak to seize and control harems - between their interior 
playgrounds and the sea. 

In June comes the bulk of the herd, a million or so females 
and a swarm of young bachelors, or holluschickie. The latter 
pass up the aisles to the sand dimes and the grass, there to romp 
and loaf the summer through, ■with occasional trips to sea after 
belly-cargoes of fish. But the poor little cows, scarcely a fifth of 
the weight of the massive bulls, are in for trouble. The courtship 
that fofiows makes the famous visit of the Sabine women to 
Rome seem a Sunday-school picnic. 

The bulls rush down to the surf and seize the approaching 
matkas by the scruffs of their necks and drag them to the harem 
grounds. Often two or three bulls make a rush for the same cow, 
and how she avoids being tom to pieces in the brawl that 
foUo^ws was never clear to me. Every bull is determined to get 
as many cows as he possibly can, but he pays for his greed 
throughout a busy summer. His wives are utterly amoral, 
calmly accepting nature’s mandate that to the victor belong the 
spoils. The sight of an old bull endlessly rounding up his harem. 



AMERICA’S TREAStIRE ISLES II3 

roaring defiance at would-be wife thieves, tom and bleeding 
'from wounds, without food or dnnk or rest for weeks on end, 
makes one understand •why polygamy has never been widely 
adopted by humans. 

Tlie cou's are hea'vy with young when they arrive at the 
islands, and m a few days they drop their pups. Almost imme- 
diately the new mothers are again impregnated, at which fact 
many a medicalmanhas expressed disb^ef In no other mammal 
can pregnancy occur during the first few weeks of lactation. In 
other creatures that bear young every year, the gestation period 
IS nine months or less, leaving an interval for nature to prepare 
the womb for another inmate and for the baby to get a good 
start. In the fur seal, the gestation period is ordinarily just 
under a full year. The explanation of this mystery is that 
the matka has a double womb and uses one side of it at 
a time. 

The old bull understands that his %vives must leave him every 
few days, to go forth to sea, catch fish and manufacture milk for 
their babies. Thus thousands of females are either gomg to sea 
or hauhng themselves out cver>' moment of the day. And since 
by the middle of July there are some himdreds of thousands of 
pups crawhng about the beaches, or sleepmg in the pale sun- 
light, or learning to sivim in the combers, how can any mother 
find her oira child? 

I don’t know how she does it, but she does. She seems to 
come straight towards him, in tremendous haste and flurry, 
knocking aside any neighbour children in her way. Sometimes 
a little wmf tries to smteh a dinner as she goes by, but she ^vill 
have none of him. 

Meanwhile the young bachelors are passing by the hundreds 
through the aisles left for them. 'l\’hen they are not out fishing 
they assemble in droves in the grass, sometimes climbmg the 
sand dunes ivith apparently no motive other than the fun of 
shuffling doivn them. It is these bachelors that furnish ladies 
their sealskm coats. Sealers come to drive them to the killing 
grounds, to club and skin them, and because in their long 
oceanic voyages they have never learned to fear men, they do 
not try to escape. 

Meanwhile &ey are careful to avoid-the harems Not so some 
of the mature but idle bulls that lurk at the edge of the beaches. 



1 14 reader’s digest omnibus 

Occasionally one of these goes berserk and charges the rookenes 
in a frantic effort to steal a wife. Sometimes he succeeds, though 
often an outraged husband tears into him, bites and pummels 
him, and then with incredible strength hurls him out of his 
harem into the private groxmds of a neighbour bull. There he is 
again attacked, then knocked about from harem to harem in 
what appears an outburst of moral indignation on the part of all 
the settled husbands, until he is tom to pieces. 

However, the greater number of the idle bulls keep their 
skins, and near summer’s end they have their innings, truly one 
of the greatest marvels in the whole marvellous life story of the 
seals. Up out of the sea come the virgin females, a hundred 
thousand or more. By now the harem masters are exhausted, 
and these sleek and sprightly maidens fall easy victims to the 
waiting ‘wolves’. 

The latecomers drop their pups the following summer at the 
same time as the bulk of the cows, although they have earned 
them only nine months instead of nearly twelve. "Why should a 
mother’s first baby seal have a shorter gestation period than the 
second? Apparentiy the foetus develops faster when the mother 
IS not nursing other young; and it seems a thrilling instance of 
Nature’s care for her species - staggering the breeding season 
so that the young may have fit fathers. 

Soon after this, in September, the great outbound migration 
begins. The yearlings have by now learned to swm. With their 
mothers bearing unborn pups, and with swarms of young 
bachelors, they take off from the beaches and head southwards 
through the Aleutian Islands into the trackless immensity of the 
Pacific. The old bulls linger a while, heaven knows why except 
that they seem too tired to move, and then they too waddle 
down to the surf and disappear. The Aleut hunters retire to 
their smoky huts, the blue foxes feed on the carcasses of the 
slain, and the wind shrills across forsaken beaches; but the rocks, 
by their glass-like smoothness, bespeak the herds assembhng 
here for a milhon years. As surely as the green of spring, they 
will come again. 


GOD’S EAGER FOOL 


THE REVEREND JOHN A o’bRIEN 

To be a fool for God, a man must forsake the comforts of the 
world and spend his life m service to others For nearly 40 > ears 
Albert Schweitzer has been just that kmd of fool. 

It began in the market square at Colmar, m Upper Alsace 
Schneitzer stood froivning up at the statue of a naked Negro 
The submissive black figure, carved on a monument erected 
to Admiral Bruat, seemed to Schweitzer to s\Tnbohse man’s 
inhumanity to man. 

‘Can it be true, as I have heard,’ he mused, ‘that we exploit 
these black people and do not give them even doctors or 
medicine’’ 

On the way home to Strasbourg the dark image gave him no 
peace. 

‘But why should my conscience be troubled?’ he argued. ‘I 
am a umversity professor, not a missionat)'.’ He might have 
added that, at 30, he had achieved fame m three fields* he was 
a ivorld-renowTied Bibhcal scholar; as a concert organist, he 
ivas a favounte of Continental and Bntish audiences; and he 
had imtten an outstanding biography of Bach. 

Then, by chance or destiny, he happened to read a magazine 
article about the Congo: ‘IS'hile w'e are preaching to these 
natives about rehgion, they are sufiFenng and dying before our 
eyes firom physical maladies, for w’hich we missionanes can do 
nothing.’ 

"What Schiveitzer felt then he later wrote* ‘A heavy guilt 
rests upon us for ivhat the whites of all nations have done to 
the coloured peoples ^\Tien we do good to them, it is not 
benevolence - it is atonement.’ 

And the scholar-musician made a vow to spend the rest of 
his life atoning to jungle savages His finends protested, if the 
abongmes of AJ&ica needed hdp, let Schweitzer raise money 
for their assistance. He certainly was not called upon to w'ash 
lepers with his o^vn hands’ 

First puHishd in *Th£ Reoirr's tn 1946 


”3 



ii6 reader’s digest omnibus 

Schweitzer answered by quoting Goethe; ‘In the beginning 
was the Deed!’ 

His beginning deed was to enter medical school. Nearly five 
years later, when he was about to be graduated as physician 
and surgeon, he found himself involved in what might have 
been a staggering complication. The man of heroic purpose had 
fallen in love! His friends exulted: marriage, they felt sure, 
would end his impractical scheme. 

But Helene Bresslau, daughter of a Jewish historian at the 
University of Strasbourg, had known his plans from the 
beginning. To her he had bluntly proposed: 

‘I am studying to be a doctor for savages. Would you spend 
all the rest of your life with me - in the jungl^’ 

And she had answered : T shall become a trained nurse. Then 
how could you go without me?’ 

They both knew that in tropical forests a medical diploma 
would not be enough; one must have medicines, bandages, 
surgical instruments. So Schweitzer lectured and wrote and 
played himself thin to earn money for the expedition. 

On Good Friday of 1913, he and his bride left for Cape 
Lopez, in French Equatorial Africa, lliere they found their 
first African friend, Joseph, who had once worked as cook for a 
white family. In canoes, Joseph gmded the doctor and his wife 
on a three-day journey up the Ogowe River to the mission post 
at Lambarene. This was the heart of the disease-cursed 
territory of which he had read. It was a world swarming with 
billions of tsetse flies, ants and disease-laden mosquitoes. 

At Lambar( 5 ne, Dr Schweitzer looked at his wife in dismay. 
They had been promised sleeping quarters and a two-room 
hospital of corrugated iron; not even a shack was ready for 
them. Where to store delicate surgical tools that rust so quickly 
in the tropics? "Where unpack hfe-giving medicines? 

Quickly they pitched camp, covered instruments with grease, 
and, to keep medicines from spoiling, buried the bottles in the 
earrii near deep, cool springs. Of these queer activities the 
natives were instantly suspicious. Naked men who looked like 
the statue in Colmar gathered around camp fires, while out of 
the deeper forest came the Pygmies, and then the Fangs and 
the Zendehs, whose teeth are filed to sharp points for eating 
human flesh. 



god’s eager fool 


“7 

Joseph insisted the confab was onunous; tribal magicians 
were preaching hatred and distrust of the newcomers But 
Schweitzer, ivalching from a distance, saw that many of the 
natives were crawhng with disease, swamp fever and sleeping 
sickness and a hundred tropical ailments. 

‘Let’s get to work*’ the Doctor called to Joseph ‘Bring sick 
people here ’ 

In desperation Schweitzer took over an abandoned hen 
house -his first hospital. An old camp bed would be the 
operating table 

The savages clustered round. The men toted spears and 
broad-bladed knives, and some clutched crossbows of ebony, 
the arrows tipped wth venom Before this menacmg audience, 
Schweitzer confronted his first patients, hardy souls who 
volunteered to try the white man's magic. 

A man wnth a chronic pain in his nght side agrees to he on 
the cot. They curtain m the surgery, but through big holes m 
the roof, as the operation for appendicitis is begun, gleaming 
eyes peer from a leafy amphitheatre . . 

Suppose the patient dies? \Vhat will these tribesmen do 
then? 

Now it is over Thank God, the patient groans and opens 
his eyes. From the jungle point of view, the operation is an 
instantaneous triumph, did they not behold this w'hite wizard 
kill a native, cut open his innards and then bring the corpse 
back to life^ Now the natives wdhngly help to build the hos- 
pital; three rooms - examination, w'ard and surgery. 

As word of the white magician spread through the jungle, 
natives trudged from afar, eager to be killed and brought back 
to life. Schweitzer operated for boils, hernias, tumours and 
for large tropical ulcers. To care for such ulcers took weeks; 
meanwhile the patients camped at the hospital door, and 
feedmg them was a problem. Some grateful relatives brought in 
fowl, eggs or bananas, but others expected presents for them- 
selves. Often the natives, if the>' hked the taste of a medicine, 
would steal the bottle and at one sitting dnnk the whole 
supply. 

To be sure of food, Schweitzer cleared a space m the jungle 
and planted a truck garden and a plantation for fhiit and 
palm oil trees. Beads and cahco he traded for bananas and 

E 



ii8 reader’s digest omkibus 

tapioca. But to live off the land alone was impossible; rice, 
meat, butter and potatoes must be expensively imported from 
Europe. 

In spite of the many difficulties, the good physician began to 
win the hearts of the tribesmen. In the first year, not one 
patient died, and thousands were relieved of pain. T.ilrp an 
apostle to the deeper jungle, Schweitzer made journeys of 
mercy on foot to distant Negro tribes. 

That he did not crumple under the strain of these prodigious 
labours was due, Schweitzer explains, to a jungle paradox - a 
zinc-lined, tropic-proof piano, gift of the Paris Bach Society. 
At night when the physician’s work was done, the musician, the 
expert on Bach, wotild go to the keyboard and, against the 
diapason of wild forest sounds, let his fingers wander through 
stem and noble music. Lost in a transport of harmony, he feels 
a hand on his shoulder. His wife is pointing at the open %vindow. 
Shadows are creeping towards the door of the sick ward. The 
doctor groans. Zendehs, confound them! Cannibals, hoping to 
kidnap a helpless sick man and cany' him off for tomorrow’s 
dinner] 

Seizing a shotgun, the doctor fires a noisy blast at the sky. 
The terrified man-eaters scatter and flee, . . . 

In August 1914, French officers appeared at the doctor’s door 
and took him prisoner, ' 

*^Var has come to Europe,’ they said. ‘You are Germans.’ 

‘No, we are Alsatians. Wc are working here to ofiset German 
oppression — ’ 

But official stupidity had its %vay; the Schweitzers were 
shipped back to Europe and confined in an internment camp. 
"When the war ended, they tvere very ill; doctors warned them 
never to go back to Afnca. 

After three years of recuperation Schweitzer felt wdl enough 
to barnstorm Europe and the British Isles, giving organ concerts 
and lectures to raise money for his jungle mission. He travelled 
third-class, lived in cheap hotels and saved every sou. By 1924 
had capital enough to resume his work. 

In the years between, heat and white ants had eaten up all 
that Schweitzer had built in Lambarene. He must bepn all 
over again. In the mornings he must be a doctor; in the after- 
noons, a builder. And he mast try to forget the loneliness and 



god’s eager fool 


”9 

the blinding, sickening heat But again, grateful natives pitched 
in to help the rebuilding, and I am proud to report that a 
Cathohc mission farther up the nver sent to the Protestant 
doctor a skilled carpenter. 

Soon Schweitzer could ivnte to his supporters in Europe that 
deaths in the great forest were going doivn A little later he 
could tell them leprosy had been wonderfully checked, only 
about 50,000 cases remained, one in 60' ‘Send us medicine, 
send us food, for the love of God*’ was his constant plea 

At last, after long years, the prospects looked bnght for the 
mission. The Doctor and Helene had a 300-bed hospital, with 
a dispensary, a modem operating room and a laboratory, a 
lying-m ward and nursery. The very latest improvement was 
electrification - wth the Doctor doing the wiring 
*^Then war exploded again m Europe, posing a bitter problem 
Dr Schweitzer faced his wife, and, as always, Helene’s answer 
was ready; 

*\Ve must not try to escape. The poor sick blacks depend 
upon us It IS a matter of conscience ’ 

This time, fortunately, they were not disturbed. 

But letters coming from 'Lambaren6 tell of the almost 
inexpressible fatigue of husband and wife To withstand that 
tropical inferno, a European needs to go home once every two 
years, yet since 1939 Schweitzer has not left the hospital. 
\Vritmg last Christmas, he spoke of how impossible it was to 
leave the mission now; so much to be done, ‘I ought to be 
30 instead of 70 But thank God I am passably robust*’ 

Friends are urging the Schweitzers to leave Africa for a rest, 
but the Doctor demurs Dunng the past trying six years he still 
found time to svnte tsvo large volumes on philosophy, and he 
wants to fimsh a thirdl 

"What IS the philosophy of such a man’ For all his scholarly 
profundity, he beheves in simple things. 

‘There is,’ he wntes, ‘an essential sanctity of the human 
personality, regardless of race or colour or conditions of life If 
that ideal is abandoned, the intellectual man goes to pieces and 
tliat means the end of culture and even of humamty.’ 

Another great conviction - indeed, the guiding pnnciple of 
Schweitzer’s life — is the supremacy of Christ’s commandment 
to love 



120 reader’s digest omnibus 

‘Only through love,’ he says, ‘can we attain to communion 
with God!’ 

Nearly 2,000 years ago St Paul spoke of those who are 
‘fools for Christ’s sake’. Since then many men and women have 
marched down history, yielding up the comforts of life to sen^e 
their fellow men. With that bnght company today goes that 
eager fool for God - Albert Schweitzer. 




YOUR SECOND JOB 

As told in an interview to Fulton Oursler 

DR ALBERT SCHWEITZER 

Often people say ‘I would like to do some good m the world. 
But with so many responsibilities at home and in business, my 
nose is always to the gnndstone. I am stmk in my own petty 
affairs, and ^ere is no chance for my life to mean anything.’ 

This IS a common and dangerous error. In helpfulness to 
others, every man can find on his own doorstep adventures for 
the soul -our surest source of true peace and lifelong satis- 
faction. To know this happiness, one does not have to neglect 
duties or do spectacular things. 

This career for the spirit I call ‘your second job’. In this there 
is no pay except the privilege of doing it In it you •H'ill encounter 
noble chances and find deep strength. Here all your reserve 
power can be put to work, for what the world lacks most today 
is men who occupy themselves with the needs of other men In 
this unselfish labour a blessing falls on both the helper and the 
helped. 

Without such spiritual adventures the man or woman of 
today walks in darkness In the pressures of modem society we 
fend to lose our individuality. Our craring for creation and 
self-expression is stifled; true civilisation is to that extent 
retarded. 

What is the remedy? No matter how busy one is, any human 
being can assert his personality by seizing every opportunity for 

First fittUishal in 'Ths Readers Digest' in 1949 



121 


YOXJR SECOND JOB 

spiritual acti\'ity. How? by his second job; by means of personal 
action, on however small a scale, for the good of his fellow men. 
He not have to look far foi opportunities. 

Our greatest mistake, as individuals, is that we walk through 
life wth closed eyes and do not notice our chances. As soon as 
we open our eyes and deliberately search we see many who need 
help, not in big thmgs but in the httlest things. "WTierever a 
man turns he can find someone who needs him. 

One day I was traveUing through Germany in a third-class 
railway carriage beside an eager youth who sat as if looking for 
something unseen. Faang him was a fretful and plainly womed 
old man Presently the lad remarked that it would be dark 
before we reached the nearest large city. 

‘I don’t know what I shall do -when w'e get there,’ said the 
old man anxiously. ‘My only son is in the hospital, very ill I 
had a telegram to come at once I must see him before he dies. 
But I am from the coimtry and I’m afraid I shall get lost in tlie 
dty.’ 

To which the young man rephed, ‘I know the aty well. I will 
get off wth you and take you to your son. Then I •will catch a 
later train ’ 

As they left the compartment they walked together like 
brothers 

'Who can assess the effect of that small kind deed? You, too, 
can watch for the httle things that need to be done. 

During the First ^Vorld War a Cockney cab driver was 
declared too old for military service From one bureau to 
another he -went, offering to make himself useful in spare time 
and always being turned away. Finally he gave himself his own 
commission Soldiers from out-of-towm camps %s'ere being 
allowed leave in the aty before going to the front. So at eight 
o'clock the old cabby appeared at a railway station and looked 
for puzzled semcemen Four or five times every night, nght up 
to demobilisation, he ser\’^ed as a volunteer guide through the 
maze of London streets 

From a feeling of embarrassment, we hesitate to approach a 
stranger. The fear of being repulsed is the cause of a great deal 
of coldness in the world; w’hen we seem mdifferent we are often 
merely timid. The adventurous soul must break that barrier, 
resolving in advance not to mind a rebuff. If we dare wth 



122 


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wisdom, always maintaining a certain reserve in our approach, 
we find that when we open ourselves we open doors in others 

Especially in great cities do the doors of the heart need to be 
opened. Love is always lonely in crowds. Country and village 
people know each other and realise some common dependence, 
but the inhabitants of cities are strangers who pass without 
salute -so isolated, so separate, often so lost and despairing. 
'\\Tiat a stupendous opportunity is waiting there for men and 
women who are wiling to be simply human* 

Begin any^vhere - in office, factory, train. There may have 
been smiles across a tram-car aisle that stayed the purpose of a 
suicide. Often a fnendly glance is like a single ray of sunshine, 
piercing a darkness we ourselves may not dream is there. 

As I look back upon my youth I realise how important to me 
were the help, understanding and courage, the gentleness and 
wsdom so many people gave me. These men and women 
entered into my life and became powers within me. But they 
never knew it. Nor did I perceive the real sigmficance of their 
help at the time. 

We all owe so much to others, and we may well ask ourselves, 
what wll others owe to us^ The complete answer must remain 
hidden from us, although we are often allowed to see some little 
fraction of it so that we may not lose courage. You may be 
sure, however, that the effect of your own life on those around 
you IS - or can be - great indeed. 

Whatever you have received more than others -in health, 
in success, m a pleasant childhood, in talents, in abihty, 
in harmonious conditions of home life - all this you must not 
take to yourself as a matter of course. In gratitude for your 
good fortune, you must render in return some sacrifice of your 
own life for other life. 

For those who have suffered in special ways there are special 
opportunities. For example, there is the fellowship of those who 
bear the mark of pain If you have been delivered from bodily 
anguish, you must not think you are free. From that moment 
on, you feel bound to help to bring others to deliverance. If an 
operation has saved you from death or torture, do your part to 
make it possible for medical science to reach some other place 
where death and agony still rule unhindered. So with the 
mother whose child has been saved, and the children w'hose 



YOUR SECOND JOB I23 

father’s last torment was made tolerable by a doctor’s skill; 
all must join in seeing to it that others may know those blessings 
also. 

In renunciation and sacrifice we must give, most of all, of 
ourselves To hand ten dollars to someone who needs it is not 
a sacnfice if you can well afford the money. The widow’s mite 
was worth more than all the rich men’s donations because her 
mite was her aU. In our oivn ways we must give something that 
it is a wench to part with, if it is only time from the cinema, 
from favourite games or fi'om our other pleasures. 

I hear people say. *Oh, if I were only rich, I would do great 
things to help people.’ But w’e all can be nch in love and 
generosity. Moreover, if we give wnth care, if we find out the 
exact wants of those who need our help most, we are giving our 
own loving interest and concern, which is worth more than all 
the money in the world. 

And by some working of the universal law, as you give of 
love, you are given more love and happiness to go on with* 

Organised welfare work is, of course, necessary'; but the gaps 
in it must be filled by personal service, performed ivith loving 
kindness A charitable organisation is a complex affair, hke an 
automobile, it needs a broad highway to run on It cannot 
penetrate the httle bypaths; those are for men and women to 
walk through, w^th open eyes and hearts fiill of comprehension. 

We cannot abdicate our conscience to an orgamsation, nor 
to a government ‘Am I my brother’s keeper'^” Most certainly 
I am* I cannot escape my responsibility by saymg the State will 
do aU that is necessarj' It is a tragedy that nowadays so many 
think and feel otherwise. 

Even in family life children are coming to beheve they do not 
have to take care of the old folks But old-age pensions do not 
rehei'e children of their duties. To dehumamse such care is 
ivrong because it abolishes the pnndple of love, w'hich is the 
foundation m upbuildmg human beings and civihsation itself. 

Tenderness towards those weaker than ourselves strengthens 
the heart towards life itself. ^Ve do temble things to each other 
because we do not have comprehension and pity The moment 
we understand and feel soix)' for the next man and forgive him, 
we wash ourselves, and it is a cleaner w’orld. 

But why must I forgive my feUow man? 



124 'reader’s digest omnibus 

Because, if I do not forgive everyone, I shall be untrue to 
myself. I shall then be acting as if I were innocent of the same 
offences, and I am not. I must forgive lies directed against me 
because so many times my own conduct has been blotted by 
lies, I must forgive the lovdessness, the hatred, the slander, the 
fraud, the arrogance which I encounter, since I mysdf have sp 
often lacked love, and have hated, slandered, defrauded and 
been arrogant. And I must forgive without noise or fuss. In 
general, I do not succeed in forgiving fully; I do not even get 
as far as being always just. But he who tries to live by this 
principle, simple and hard as it is, will know the real adventures 
and triumphs of the soul. 

A man has done us a ivrong. Are we to wait for him to ask 
our forgiveness’ No! He may never ask pardon and then we 
shall never forgive, which is evil. No, let us simply say, instead : 
‘It does not exist*’ 

In a railway station I watch a man with dustpan and broom 
sweeping up refuse in the waiting room. He cleans up a portion, 
then moves on to the next. But let him look back over his 
shoulder and he will behold a man throwing a cigar stump on 
the floor, a child scattering paper around - more litter accumu- 
lating where a moment before he had it all swept clean. Yet he 
has to go right on with his work and feel no rage. So must we 
all! In my personal relations ivith people I must never be 
ivithout my pan and broom. I must continually clean up the 
litter. I must rid myself of dead and useless things. If the leaves 
do not drop off the trees in autumn, there ivill be no room for 
new leaves in the spring. 

You may think it is a wonderful life my Mofe and I have in 
the equatorial jungle. That is merely ivhere ive happen to be 
But you can have a still more wonderful life by staying where 
you happen to be and putting your soul to the test in a thousand 
little trials, and ivinmng triumphs of love. Such a career of the 
spint demands patience, devotion, daring. It calls for strength 
of will and the determination to love: the greatest test of a man. 
But in this hard ‘second job’ is to be found the only true 
happiness. 



A BOY WHO ^VAS TRADED 
FOR A HORSE 


Condensed fiom The American Magadne 
JAMES SAXON CHILDERS 

A STOOPED old Negro, carrying an armful of is-ild flowers, 
shuffled along through the dust of an Alabama road towards 
one of the biuldmgs of Tuskegee Institute His thin body bent 
by the years, his hair white beneath a ragged cap, he seemed 
pathetically lost on the campus of an education^ mstitubon. 
Poor old fellow'; I had seen hundreds hke him. Totally ignorant, 
imable to read and iviite, they shamble along Southern roads 
in search of odd jobs 

At the door of one of the buildings, I saw a trim little 
secretary' hurr>' up to the bent old Negro : ‘That delegation firom 
^Vashington is waiting for you. Doctor Can'er.’ 

Fantastic as it seemed, tlus shabbily-clad old man was none 
other than the distinguished Negro scientist of Tuskegee Insti- 
tute, Dr George IVashington Carver, renowned for his chemical 
wizardry. 

Bom a slave child, he began hfe without even a name. He 
never knew' his father or mother. To this day he doesn’t know' 
w’hen he w'as bom, though he figures his age as over 70. All his 
hfe he has been joyously at work with everj'day things, making 
something out of nothing, or next to nothing. Out of his labours 
at Tuskegee have come scientific marvels: 

From the peanut he has made nearly 300 useful products, 
including cheese, candies, instant coSee, pickles, oils, sha\Tng 
lotions, dyes, lard, hnoleum, flour, breakfast foods, soap, face 
powder, shampoo, printer’s ink, and even axle grease! 

From w’ood sha\'mgs he has made sjTithetic marble. From the 
muck of sivamps and the leaves of the forest floor, valuable 
fertihzers. From cow' dung, pamt. 

From the loiviy siveet potato he has made more than 100 
products, among them starch, hbrary paste, \'inegar, shoe 

First ptiUished in *Tte Jtesdr^s Digest w 1937 



126 reader’s digest omnibus 

blacking, ink, dyes, molasses. Experts say he has done more th a n 
any other hving man to rehabilitate agriculture in the South. 

And more still. Doctor Carver is an artist, especially skilled 
in painting flowers. His paintings have been exhibited at world 
' fairs, and one is going to the Luxembourg Gallery in Paris. He 
makes all his own paints, using Alabama clays. He has woven 
gorgeous rugs with fibres made from cotton stalks. He is a 
skilled musician too -once he toured the Middle West as a 
concert pianist.^ 

‘When you do the common things of life in an uncommon 
way,’ Doctor Carver once said to his students, ‘you will com- 
mand the attention of the world.’ There lies the secret of his own 
achievement. 

He was born in a rude slave cabin on the farm of Moses 
Carver near Diamond Grove, Mo. When he was six months 
old, night riders carried away the baby and his mother. The 
raiders took no care of the child; he developed whooping cough 
and was dying when emissaries sent out by Moses Carver 
arrived to buy back the stolen slaves. 

The mother had already been disposed of; no one ever 
learned what became of her. The baby was traded back to his 
owner for a broken-down racehorse. 

The Carvers reared the sickly child, bestowing his given 
name, ‘George Washington’. Frail and undersized, he per- 
formed household chores, becoming an excellent cook and learn- 
ing to mend clothes. The Carvers wanted him to have an 
education, but offered him no money. Without a cent, he set 
out for a school eight miles away. Alone among strangers, he 
slept at first m an old horse bam. Soon he picked up odd jobs 
and entered the school. 

In his early twenties, having completed the high school 
course, he mailed an entrance application to a college m Iowa, 
and by mail was accepted. But when he arrived, they refused to 
admit him because he was a Negro. Again he worked at odd 
jobs and accumulated enough money to open a small laundry. 

The next year he entered Simpson College at Indianola, 
Iowa. When he had paid his entrance fee he had ten cents left, 
and he had to live nearly a week on com meal and suet. For 
three years he worked his way; then in 1890 he enrolled at 

^ Dr George Washington Carver died at Tuskegee in January 1943 


A BOY WHO WAS TRADED FOR A HORSE I27 

Iowa State College. Four years later he took his degree in 
agriculture, haring earned every penny of his expenses His 
work so impressed the authorities that they appointed him to 
the college faculty. 

It was while Car\'er w'as at Io\\-a State that Booker T. 
"Waslungton mrited him to Tuskegee. In accepting. Carver sa^^ 



a great opportunity to serve his own people in the South He 
saw that the cotton lands were wearing out through failure to 
rotate crops He saw debt-burdened farmers facing pox erty He 
set himself to preach a gospel of native money crops other than 
cotton; and aiter study and experiment, he decided that the 
Southern farmer could get his money xnth more surety and less 
damage to his soil by growing peanuts and sxveet potatoes 
Doctor Carx'cr began to xvnte bulletins and make speeches 
proxing his contentions. After a time. Southern fairmers increased 
their peanut and sxxeet potato acreage. And then, suddenly, 
and sadly. Doctor Carx'er axxoke to xvhat he had done. He had 
increased the supply xrithout increasing the demand The pea- 
nut and the sxveet potato xxere rottmg; the farmers x\ho had 
planted them xx'ere losing money. 

Almost fiercely the Negro scientist went to xvork, spending 
da>s and nights m his laboratoiy. seeking nexv uses for the 
peanut and the sxxeet potato. As each by-product xvas perfected, 
he gave it freely to the xxorld, askmg only that it be used for the 
benefit of mankind. 

Inexitably his work brought ofiers to leave Tuskegee. In 



128 


reader’s digest omnibus 

Doctor Carver’s office are two autographed pictures from Edison. 
‘He sent me one of them when he asked me to come to his 
laboratory and work -tvith him,’ Doctor Carver explained. ‘He 
sent me the other, the larger one, when I told him that my work 
was here in the South, and that I didn’t think God wanted me 
to leave it.’ Another offer tempted the old Negro with a salary 
of $100,000. He refused it. He stayed in Tuskegee, where his 
meagre salary is quickly consumed in anonymously paying the 
bills of worthy boys, both white and black, who are trying to 
get an education. He continues to wear the old alpaca coat and 
black trousers which he has so often mended, and neckties 
which he knits out of fibres that he makes himself. 

One of Dr Carver’s first big jobs at Tuskegee was to take over 
and work ig acres of the worst land in Alabama. The best 
methods of farming had previously produced a net loss of $16.25 
an acre on this land. Within a year Carver showed a net gam of 
$4 an acre. Later he produced two crops of sweet potatoes in 
one year with a profit of $75 an acre. These experiments 
proved that the world allows to go to waste an almost unlimited 
supply of fertilizer that most soils need - the muck from swamps 
and the leaves from forests. 

■\\Tien Congress was considermg the Hawley-Smoot tariff 
bill. Southern farmers pleaded in vain for a duty on the peanut. 
Fmally, a dozen men appeared before the "Ways and Means 
Committee, each consuming his allotted ten minutes. In the 
background, Doctor Carver, ivith trembling hands, awaited his 
time. Last on the hst, he shuffled forward to address Congressmen 
thoroughly tired of the peanut. 

The old man took his place behind the table, where stood 
scores of products that he had made. Simply, smiling his humble 
smile, he told how he had asked, ‘God, what is a peanut and 
why id you make it?’ and hoiv he had sought the ans%ver, how 
he had discovered in the peanut products, ranging from face 
powder to wood stains. As he talked he pointed to each product 
that he, the humble old Negro before them, had made in his 
Alabama laboratory. 

Exactly at the end of ten minutes. Doctor Carver thanked 
the committee, bowed, and started back to his lone place in a 
far comer. But the Congressmen would not let him go; they 
demanded that he continue his story. He spoke om hour and 


A BOY WHO WAS TRADED FOR A HORSE I29 

foTfy-jive minutes. WTiereupon the peanut was WTitten into the 
taiifiF. 

‘Money means nothing to him/ a friend told me. ‘Some 
wealthy peanut growers in Florida were suffering tembly from 
a diseased crop. They sent Doctor Carver some specimens. He 
told them W'hat was WTong and how to cure it. After his treat- 
ment had proved correctj they sent him a cheque for Sioo, 
promismg the same amount monthly as a retainer. He sent back 
the cheque, teUmg them that God didn’t charge anything for 
growing the peanut, and that he shouldn’t charge anything for 
curing it.’ 

One day, after I had seen his rope made from okra fibre, 
insulatmg board from peanut shells, and dyes from the dande- 
lion, omon and tomato vme, I asked Doctor Carver how he 
found time for aU his accomplishments. 

‘Cluefly because I’ve made it a rule to get up t\ ery morning 
at four o’clock,’ he said. ‘I go out into the woods Alone there 
■with the things I love most, I gather specimens and study the 
great lessons that Nature is so eager to teach me In the W'oods 
each morning, w'hile most other persons are sleeping, I best 
hear and imderstand God’s plan for me.’ 

As he turned away to bend over his microscope, I heard him 
mutter to himself, ‘God has been mighty good to this poor old 
Negro.’ 

No one can adequately report the strange feehng of spiritual 
betterment that one feek when Doctor Carver, with his humble 
smile, places his trembling hand on your shoulder and says, 
‘Goodbye, my boy, goodbye. And may God bless you.’ It is a 
benediction from a simple, a kindly, a noble heart. 


A woman walked into a milhner)' shop and pointed out a 
hat in the window. ‘That red one with the featheis and 
berries,’ she said ‘Would you take it out of the window 
for me?’ 

‘Certainly, madam,’ the clerk replied. *We’d be glad to ’ 
‘Thank you very much,' said the woman, moiing towards 
the exit. ‘The horrible thing bothers me everj' time I pass.’ 



‘THE TITANIC IS UNSINKABLE’ 

Condensed from Harper's Magazine 


HANSON W. BALDWIN 

The ViTiite Star liner Titanic^ largest ship the world had ever 
hno^ra, sailed from Southampton on her maiden voyage to New 
York on 10 April igi2. She was believed to be the safest ship 
afloat; she had double bottoms and her hull was divided into 
i6 watertight compartments, which made her, men thought, 
unsinkable. She had been built to be, and had been described 
as, a gigantic lifeboat. She stood out to sea with 2,201 persons 
aboard. 

Occupying the Empire bedrooms and suites of the first-class 
accommodations were many %vell-known men and women - 
Colonel John Jacob Astor and his young bride; Francis 
Millet, the painter; H. B. Hams, theatrical manager, and Airs 
Hams; Mr and Airs Isidor Straus; and J. Bruce Ismay, manag- 
ing director of the White Star Line. Do^vn in the cabins of the 
steerage class were 706 immigrants to the land of promise. 

Sunday in mid-Atlantic dawned fair and clear. The purser 
held services in the saloon in the mormng. At g a.m. a message 
from the steamer Caronia sputtered into the \vireless shack: 

Captain, Ti/anic - "Westbound steamers report bergs, 
growlers and field ice in 42 degrees N. from 4g degrees to 
51 degrees ^V. 

Compliments - Barr. 

In the afternoon Afarconi Operator Bride, earphones clamped 
on his head, was doing accounts; he did not stop to answer 
when he heard a nearby liner, the Californian, calling the Titanic. 
The Californian had some message about three icebergs; he 
didn’t bother to take it down. About 1.42 p.m. the rasping 
spark of those days spoke again across the water. It was the 
Baltic, warning the Titanic of ice on the steamer track Bride 
sent ihe message up to the bridge. The bearded master of the 

First published ir ‘The Header's Digest in 19i4 

130 



‘the titanic is uxsinkable’ 131 

Titanic, Captain E. C Smith, read the message as he ^\as 
\valking on the promenade deck, and handed it to Mr Ismay 
•without comment. Ismay read it, stuffed it m his pocket, told 
tivo ladies about the icebergs, and resumed his "walk. Later, 
about 7.15 p.m., the Captain requested the return of the 
message in order to post it m the chart room for the information 
of officers. 

Dinner that night m the Jacobean dining-room was gay. It 
i\ as bitter on deck, but the mght as calm and fine. After dinner 
some of the second-class passengers gathered in the saloon for a 
‘h^mn smg-song’. It was almost ten o’clock as the group sang. 

Oh, hear us tihen we ctj to Thee 
For those tn peril on the sea. 

On the bridge Second Officer LightoUer was rehe\ed at ten 
o’clock by First Officer Murdoch. At least fi\e wireless ice 
warnings had reached the ship; lookouts had been cautioned to 
be alert; officers expected to reach the field at any time after 
9.30 p.m. At 22 knots, its speed unslackened, the Titanic ploughed 
on through the mght. In the crow’s nest. Lookout Fleet and his 
partner, Leigh, gazed down at the water, stiU and unruffled in 
the dim, starlit darkness. 

In the wireless room, where Phillips, first operator, had 
reheved Bride, the buzz of the Californian's set again crackled: 

Californian: Say, old man, we are stuck here, surrounded 

by ice. 

Titanic: Shut up, shut up, keep out. I am talking to 

Cape Race; ^tju are jammmg my signals. 

Then, a few mmutes later - about 1 1.40 . . . 

Out of the dark she came, a vast, dim, white, monstrous 
shape, directly in the Titanic spnih. For a moment Fleet doubted 
his eyes But Ae w as a deadly reahty. Frantically he telephoned 
the bndge* 

‘Iceberg’ Right ahead!’ 

Bells clanged the first wnming in the engine room Danger! 
The indicators on the dial faces swimg round to ‘Stop!" Then 
‘Full speed astern!’ 

There was a shght shock, a brief scraping, a small list to port. 
Shell ice - slabs and chunks of it - fell on the foredeck. Slowh 



132 reader’s digest omnibus 

the Titanic stopped. Captain Smith hurried out of his cabin. 
‘What has the ship struck?’ 

Murdoch answered, ‘An iceberg, sir. I have closed the water- 
tight doors.’ 

A few lights switched on in the first and second cabins, 
sleepy passengers peered through porthole glass; some casually 
asked the stewards * ‘^ATiy have we stopped^’ 

‘I don’t know, sir, but I don’t suppose it is anything much.’ 

In the smoking room a quorum of gamblers were still sitting 
round a poker table. They had felt the slight jar of the collision 
and had seen an 8o-foot ice mountain glide by the smoking 
room windows, but the Titanic was ‘unsinkable’, they hadn’t 
bothered to go on deck. 

But far below, in the forward holds and boiler rooms, men 
could see that the Titanic's hurt was mortal. All six compart- 
ments forward of No. 4 were open to the sea; in ten seconds the 
iceberg’s jagged claw had ripped a 300-foot slash in the bottom 
of the great Titanic. 

On deck, in comdor and state-room, life flowed again. Men, 
women and children awoke and questioned; orders were given 
to uncover the lifeboats, water rose into the firemen’s quarters; 
half-dressed stokers streamed up on deck. But the passengers - 
most of them - did not know that the Titanic was sinking. The 
shock of the collision had been so shght that some were not 
awakened by it; the Titanic was unsinkable; the night was too 
calm, too beautiful, to think of death at sea. 

In the radio shack the blue spark danced, calling for assistance: 
‘CQP-CQP-CQP— ’ 

The sea was surging into the Titanic's hold. At 12.20 the 
water burst into the seamen’s quarters through a collapsed 
bulkhead. Pumps strained in the engine rooms -men and 
machinery making a futile fight against the sea. Steadily the 
water rose. 

The boats were swung out — slowly; for the deck hands were 
late in reaching their stations, there had been no boat drill, and 
many of the crew did not know to what boats they were assigned. 

12.30 a.m. The word is passed* ‘Women and children in the 
boats.’ Stewards finish waking their passengers below, life pre- 
servers are tied on; some men smile at the precaution. ‘The 
Titanic is unsinkable.’ The Mt Temple starts for the Titanic; the 



‘the titanic is unsinkable’ 133 

Carpathia, -with a double watch in her stokeholds, radioes, ‘Com- 
ing hard.’ The CQD changes the course of many ships - but 
not of one; the operator of the California, a dozen nules away, 
has just put down his earphones and turned in. 

12 45 a m. Murdoch, eyes tragic, but calm and cool, orders 
boat No. 7 lowered The women hang back; they want no boat 
nde on an ice-streum sea, the Titanic is unsinkable. The men 
encourage them, explain thatthisisjustaprccautionarj' measure. 
‘IVe’U see you agam at breakfast.* There is little confusion; 
passengers stream slowly to the boat deck. In the steerage the 
immigrants chatter excitedly 

A sudden sharp hiss - a streaked flare agamst the mght A 
rocket explodes, and a parachute of \shite stars hghts up the 
icy sea. ‘God* Rockets'* The band plays ragtime. No 6 goes 
over the side There are only 28 people in a lifeboat with a 
capacity of 65 

I a.m. Slowly the water creeps higher, the fore ports of the 
Titanic are dipping into the sea. Rope squeaks through blocks, 
hfeboats drop jerkily seaward. Through the shouting on the 
decks comes the sound of the band playing ragtime 

The ‘Millionaires’ Special’ leaves the ship - boat No i, wth 
a capacity of 40 people, carries only Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff 
Gordon and ten others Aft, the frightened immigrants mill and 
jostle and rush for a boat. An officer’s fist flies out, three shots 
are fired in the air, and the pamc is quelled . . . Four Chinese 
sneak unseen into a boat and hide m its bottom. 

The rockets fling their splendour toirards the stars. The boats 
are more heavily loaded now, for the passengers know the 
Titanic IS sinkmg IVomen chug and sob. The great screu-s aft 
are rising clear of the sea. Half-filled boats are ordered to come 
alongside the cargo ports and take on more passengers, but the 
ports are never opened - and the boats are never filled. The 
water rises and the band plays ragtime. 

1.30 a m As one boat is lowered into the sea a boat officer 
fires his gun along the ship’s side to stop a rush from the lower 
decks. A woman toes to take her Great Dane into a boat wth 
her; she is refused and steps out of the boat to die with her dog. 
jMiUet’s ‘httle smile which played on his hps all through the 
voyage’ plays no more, his hps are grun, but he waves goodbye 
and brings WTaps for the women 


reader’s digest omnibus 


134 

Benjahun Guggenheim, in evening clothes, smiles and says, 
‘We’ve dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like 
gentlemen.’ Major Butt helps women mto the last boats and 
waves goodbye to them. Mrs Straus puts her foot on the gun- 
wale of a lifeboat, then she draws back and goes to her husband 
‘We have been together many years; where you go I will go.’ 
Colonel John Jacob Astor puts his young wife in a hfeboat, steps 
back, taps cigarette on fingernail* ‘Goodbye, deane; I’lljom 
you later.’ 

1 .45 a.m. The forcdeck is under water, the great stem is hfted 
high towards the bnght stars. Below in the stokeholds the sweaty 
firemen keep steam up for the flaring lights and the dancing 
spark. Stokers shce and shovel as water laps about their ankles 
Safety valves pop; the stokers retreat aft, and the watertight 
doors clang shut behind them. There are about 660 people in 
the boats, and 1,500 still on the sinking Titanic. On top of the 
officers’ quarters men work frantically to get the two collapsibles 
stowed there over the side. In the radio shack. Bride has slipped 
a life-jacket about Philhps as the first operator sits hunched over 
his key, sending. A stoker, grimed with coal, mad with fear, 
steals into the shack and reaches for the life-jacket on Phillips’ 
back. Bride wheels about and brains him with a wrench. The 
band still plays - but not ragtime: 

Nearer, my God, to Thee, 

Nearer to Thee . . . 

A few men take up the refrain, others kneel on the slanting 
decks to pray. People are leaping from the decks into the nearby 
water - the icy water. A woman cries, ‘Oh, save me, save me*’ 
A man answers, ‘Good lady, save yourself. Only God can save 
you now.’ 

The water creeps over the bridge where the Titanic’s master 
stands, heavily he steps out to meet it. 

2.17 a.m. ‘CQr— ’ The Virginian hears a ragged, blurred CQ,, 
then an abrupt stop. The blue spark dances no more. The lights 
on the ship fhcker out 

2.18 a.m. Men run about blackened decks; leap into the 
night, are swept into the sea by the curling wave which licks up 
the Titanic’s length. The great stem nses like a squat leviathan. 
The forward funnel snaps and crashes into the sea; its steel tons 


‘the titanic is unsinkable’ 


135 

hammer out of existence summers struggling m the freezing 
water. The Titanic stands on end, poised briefly for the plunge. 
Slowly she slides to her grave - slowly at first, and then more 
quickly - qmckly - quickly. 

2 20 a m The greatest ship m the world has sunk. From the 
calm, dairk waters, where the floating lifeboats move, there goes 
up, in the white wake of her passmg, ‘one long, contmuous 
moan.’ 

The boats that the Titanic had launched pulled safely away 
from the shght suction of the sinking ship There \\ere only a 
few boats that i\ere heavily loaded, most of those that \%ere half 
empty made but perfunctory efforts to pick up the moaning 
sivimmers, their officers and crew's feanng they would endanger 
the hving if they pulled back into the midst of the dying. Some 
boats beat off the freezing victims, fear-crazed men and women 
struck ivith oars at the heads of swmmers One woman drove 
her fist into the face of a half-dead man as he tried feebly to 
chmb over the gunwale Tw’o other women helped him m and 
stanched the flow of blood from nng-cuts on his face. 

It was 2.40 when the Carpathta first sighted tlie green light 
from No 2 boat, it was 4.10 when she picked up the first boat 
and learned that the Titanic had foundered The last moaning 
cries had just died aw’ay. It w-as soon afterwards, w’hcn her radio 
operator put on his earphones, that the Californian, the ship that 
had been within sight as the Titanic w'as sinking, first learned of 
the disaster. 

And It W'as then, in all its white-green majesty, that the 
Titanic's survivors saw the iceberg, tinted with the sunrise, 
floating idly on the blue breast of the sea. 

On Thursday mght, when the Carpalhia reached her dock m 
New York, 30,000 people jammed the streets, ambulances and 
stretchers stood on the pier; coroners and physicians waited, 
and relatives of the 71 1 survivors, relatives of the missing - 
hoping against hope. The dense throngs stood quiet as the first 
survivor - a w'oman - half-staggered down the gangivay. A ‘low 
wailing’ moan came from the crowd, grew m volume, and 
dropped again. 

The Bntish Board of Trade’s investigation w'as tersely damn- 
ing. The Titanic had earned boats enough for 1,178 persons, 
only one-third of her capacity. Her 16 boats and four coUapsibles 



136 reader’s digest omnibus 

had saved but 71 1 persons; 400 had needlessly lost their lives. 
The Calif orman also was damned. She had seen the Titanic* s 
rockets; she had not received the CQD calls because her radio 
operator was asleep. 

‘WTien she first saw the rockets,* said the report, ‘the Cali- ‘ 
fornian could have pushed through the ice to &e open water 
without any serious risk and so have come to the assistance of 
the Titanic. Had she done so she might have saved many if not 
all of the lives that were lost.’ 


SHC* 

WHEN KRAKATOA BLEW UP 

Condensed from Nature hdagazfne 
ERNST BEHRENDT 

T HE world IS awed by the might of the blasts that devastated 
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but there was an explosion once that 
was incomparably greater. Those atomic bombs flattened two 
cities, yet people a few dozen miles away were oblivious of the 
fact. 

When the East Indies island of Krakatoa blew up, on 
i27 August 1883, the whole world knew about it. The noise was 
heard 3,000 miles away. The great waves the explosion caused 
in the sea reached the shores of four continents and were 
recorded 8,000 miles away. An air wave generated by the blast 
travelled clear round the world, not once but several times. 
And where had been a mountain half a mile high was now a 
hole a thousand feet deep and miles across. 

Red-hot debris covered an area larger than France, to a 
depth of sometimes 100 feet on land. For nearly a year after- 
wards the dust of the explosion, blown upwards for 30 miles, 
filled the high atmosphere over almost the whole globe. Even 
though there were no large towns wthin 100 miles of the 
volcano, 36,000 persons lost their lives 

The biggest blast in history was caused by nothing more 
mystenous than the old-fashioned force which rattles the lid on a 


FtTSl publisked tn ‘The Reader’s DigesV tn 1946 


WHEN KS.AKATOA BLEW UP I37 

tea-kettle. But the fire under the kettle was a mile-long pocket of 
seething lava and it changed a cubic mile of ocean into super- 
heated steam. The lid blew off and the kettle exploded as well. 

Krakatoa ivas a volcanic island of about i8 square miles in 
the Sunda Strait, in the Dutch East Indies, betiveen Java and 
Sumatra. 



Early in the spnng of 1883, there were ^vam^ng signs. Smoke 
and steam poured firom recent fissures in the rock. A river of 
lava cut a wide swath through the tangled jungle. But the Dutch 
in Java and Sumatra were not alarmed. Old Krakatoa had 
pufied and rumbled before. Even when the Dutch Captain 
Ferzenaar amved m Bata\'ia in August with a report that two 
new' volcanoes had appeared on Krakatoa, the Dutch were not 
impressed. There w'ere scores of\olcanoesm Indonesia; besides, 
Kiukatoa w’as almost a hundred miles away. 

‘The ground was so hot it burned right through the soles of 
my boots,’ Captain Ferzenaar said. Well, if it was that w arm on 
Krakatoa the few' natives who hved there would have to take 
to their boats and wait until the island cooled off 

Captam Ferzenaar was the last wlutc man to set foot on 
Krakatoa before the eruption. By this time na\igation through 





138 reader’s digest omnibus 

Sunda Strait was becoming difficult. Several skippers turned 
back when they saw the narrows covered with a foot-thick 
layer of cinders. But the captain of one American freighter 
battened down the hatches and calmly sailed through the 
hissing sea. His cargo - kerosene! 

No one after him attempted the passage. By now Krakatoa’s 
rumblings had grown into a continuous, angry roar heard along 
the entire east coast of Java. In Buitenzorg, 61 miles from 
Krakatoa, people were seeking shelter from what they thought 
was a gathering thunderstorm. 

‘In the afternoon of 26 August,’ R. D. M. Verbeek wrote in 
his descnption of the catastrophe, ‘the low rumbling was 
interrupted by sharp, reverberating detonations. They grew 
louder and more frequent. People were terrified. Night came, 
but no one thought of sleepihg. Towards morning the incessant 
noise was drowning out every other sound. Suddenly, shortly 
before seven, there was a tremendous explosion. Buildings 
shook, walls cracked, and doors flew open as if pushed by 
invisible hands. Everybody rushed into the streets. Another 
deafening explosion, and then everything was quiet as if the 
volcano had ceased to exist.’ 

The volcano had ceased to exist. Seething with the expansion 
of Its gases, the white-hot lava found temporary outlets in the 
two craters seen by Ferzenaar, which normally acted as safety 
valves. But the pressure became too great. Unimaginable energies 
were straimng against hundreds of feet of solid rock overhead. 
The rock heaved, buckled, on the evening of 26 August it 
cracked ivide open like the wall of a defective cauldron. 

"With all the fury of a pnmordial cataclysm a stream of lava 
burst forth in a deafemng roar. Seconds later the ocean rushed 
into the opening. On contact with the hot lava the water 
changed into superheated steam. Colossal blocks of gramte 
and obsidian rocketed upwards amid a cloud of dust and 
smoke Again the ocean rushed in, batthng the pent-up lava, 
changing into expanding, exploding superheated steam, break- 
ing down barrier after barrier of rock. 

No one knows how many times the white-hot magma pushed 
back the ocean and how often the ocean returned to the assault. 
In the end the water won. Early in the morning of 27 August 
the ocean reached the volcanic centre of the island. Even the 


WHEN KRAKATOA BLEW UP 


139 

fury of the pre\uous explosions was but a faint prelude to the 
final catacl^'sm as the heart was ripped out of Krakatoa and 
14 cubic miles of rock streaked upwards into the sky. 

The sun was blotted out behind a curtam of ebony tom by 
jagged hghtning. Miles away, Krakatoa’s pjTotechnics aued 
the sailors of the Bntish ship Charles Bal, who saw the island 
shoot up over the horizon, ‘shaped hke a pine tree bnlhantly 
illuminated by electric flashes.’ The sea uzis covered "with 
innumerable &h, fioatmg belly-up on the churning water. 

Long aftenmrds came the noise -the loudest ever heard bv 
human ears ‘The concussions were deafening,’ wrote Lloyd’s 
agent m Batavia, a hundred miles away. They hammered everj' 
ear-drum m Jam and Sumatra and put fear into the hearts of 
Borneo’s head-hunters. People in Victoria Plains, Australia, 
1,700 miles to the eastward, were startled by ivhat seemed to be 
artiUery fire. The sound waves travelled 2,968 miles westward 
to Rodriguez Island near Madagascar. 

“Wfith the noise, concentric imves of air started on their way 
around the globe. A day and a half after the explosion, the first 
of them hit London from the west. Then a second wave rushed 
over the city from the east. Four times the east-bound wave 
swept over London - and o\ er Berlin, St Petersburg and 
Valencia as well - and three times it swept back The strato- 
sphenc seesaw contmued for more than ten da^'s before the 
blast had spent its force. 

Far more violent was the effect of the eraption on the sea In 
Anjer, on the west coast of Ja\a, a retired sea captain suddenly 
noticed a new island which had bobbed up in the strait. The 
next moment he was runnmg for his life The island was a wall 
of water, 50 feet high, advancing across the narroivs at mcredible 
speed, battering doivn the wharves, engulfing Anjer, racing 
uphill, smashmg everytlung in its path The wave flung a log 
at him, and he went do^vn. Wlien he regmned consciousness he 
was sitting on the top of a tree half a mile inland, stripped of 
every shred of clothing but othennse unharmed. 

He was one of the few who sa\v the wave and lived to desenbe 
its fur}'. Anjer had vanished The ivave, rising to a height of a 
hundred feet, wiped out scores of villages and killed thousands 
of people On the coast of Sumatra, the wave tore the warship 
Beroun from her moorings and drove her, anchor dragging, t\NO 



140 reader’s digest omnibus 

miles inland, leaving her stranded in the jungle, 30 feet above 
sea level. 

The wave raced across the entire width of the Indian Ocean, 
when it reached Cape Town, 5,100 miles away, it was still over 
a foot high. It rounded the Gape of Good Hope, turned north- 
ward into the Atlantic, along the coast of Africa, and at last 
spent itself in the English Channel. 

^^^ole districts of Indonesia were buried under ashes, the 
jungles were choked, the rice paddies changed into deserts. The 
sky was so filled with ashes that for a time lamps were needed 
all day in Batavia. 

But what covered the land and the sea was only a small part 
of the volcano. Most of Krakatoa’s solid rock had been pul- 
vensed and blasted to a height of 150,000 feet. Clouds of 
volcanic dust hung suspended in the stratosphere for months. 
Air currents carried them across oceans and continents All 
over the world, the rays of the sun were filtered through a veil 
spun in the depths of Sunda Strait. In Paris, New York, Cairo 
and London, the setting sun appeared blue, leaden, green and 
copper-coloured, and at night the earth was steeped in the 
light of a green moon and green stars. 

The phenomenon lasted into the spnng of 1884; then the 
colours faded, and Krakatoa’s magnificent shroud disappeared. 
The final chapter in its history seemed to be over, ^akatoa 
was utterly dead. Nothing was left of it but a few square miles 
of rock buned under a mountain of ashes. All plants and insects 
and birds and mammals had been dissolved in a fiery cloud. 

Then a miracle happened - the miracle of the rebirth of life 
Four months after the eruption, a botanist found an almost 
microscopic spider, gallantly spinning its web where nothmg 
was to be caught. It had apparently drifted m on the wind. 

And then in a few years came the grasses and shrubs, the 
worms, ants, snakes and birds. They arrived by air -seeds 
dropped by birds on their flight over the barren land; small 
caterpillars carried by the wind ; beetles and butterflies winging 
their way over from Java and Sumatra They arrived by water - 
eggs of worms and reptiles flung ashore with flotsam; snails and 
scorpions riding the waves on decayed tree trunks; pythons and 
crocodiles swimming across the narrows. Parasites clung to their 
bodies. 



WHEN KRAEATOA BLEW UP 


I4I 

Plants and animals came over by accident, but there %\as 
nothing accidental about the sequence m which they estabbshed 
themselves. It was a ngid chronological pattern telescoping 
millennia into months. Some forms of life had to be there first 
so that others could hve 

For a while some forms prospered through the absence of 
enemies and competitors. Around 1910, Krakatoa was o\errun 
by swarms of ants; ten years later, when there were plenty of 
birds and reptiles, the ants had all but disappeared By 1919 the 
first small clusters of trees had taken root, and by 1924 they had 
grown mto a continuous forest. A few years later, climbing 
plants were already choking the trees to death and transforming 
the new -forest into a tropical jungle with orchids, butterflies, 
snakes, numberless birds and bats 

Krakatoa became a naturalist’s paradise, and the Dutch 
made it a nature resen'e and allowed no one but accredited 
saentists to set foot on the island They worked out a complete 
inventory of life on Krakatoa They counted the steadily- 
growing number of new arrivals and obscnfcd how they h\ed 
ivith each other and fought each other. Thc> even discovered 
several sub-speaes - birds and butterflies with peculiar charac- 
teristics not to be found anywhere else Krakatoa w'as not only 
drawng on the forms of life around it; it was creating a life of 
its OWTl. 

Then, one day, the scientists discovered another sort of life 
stirnng on Krakatoa. The old volcano w'as not dead. 

Deep doivn under its rocky foundation a pocket of lava was 
seekmg an outlet for its energies The bottom of the inland sea 
W'as healing and buckling again. A submanne cone w’as build- 
ing up; on 26 Januar}' 1928, it broke the surface and showed its 
top, a flat, ugly island a few' hundred feet across, w'hich the 
waves w’ashed away a few’ days later. 

A year passed. Then suddenly a gejser began to spout steam 
and ashes Sulphurous fumes drifted over the ocean Again the 
sea W’as covered ivith dead fish floating belly-up 

The new geyser is still there. It is a portion of the ancient crater 
nm with mud deposited on its top and a flue m its centre - a safeti'- 
valve for the stupendous pressure generated by the lava pocket 
underneath The nati\ es call the new \ olcano *Anak Krakatoa’, 
the ‘Child of Krakatoa’ No name could be more ominous. 



MIRACLE UNDER THE ARCTIC SEA 

Condensed from The Saturday Evening Post 

GOMDR. WILLIAM J. LEDERER, USN 

During August ig4g two of the U.S. Naig^'s latest experimental sub- 
marines, the Tusk and Gocjiino, conducted cold-weather operations in 
the treacherous Greenland Sea, 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The 
subs ran just beneath the surface, using their schnorkels. On 25 August 
they ran into a polar gale with high waves and strong winds. With the 
ships three miles apart, the Gochino suffered a battery accident which 
resulted in the generation of hydrogen, a most dangerous gas when con- 
fined. For 14 hours the frozen crews fought explosions, fire and storm 
Here is an account of those heroic hours, pieced together by Commander 
William J. Lederer, U.S Pf., who interrogated the survivors shortly after 
they returned to the U.S. Submarine Base at Kew London, Connecticut. 

Time. 0801 

All over the ship loudspeakers screamed the dreaded warn- 
ing: ‘Hydrogen' Put out the Smoking Lamp!’ Sailors frantically 
extinguished their cigarettes. A chief petty officer plunged his 
pipe into a cup of coffee. 

Before Gommander Rafael Benitez could issue another order 
a heavy thud pounded against the bulkheads. Men jostled mto 
the Gontrol Room yelhng, ‘Firel’ 

Acrid fumes swirled in. Benitez coughed as he said to the 
Divmg Officer, Lieutenant Glifford: ‘Surface her quick! I’ll 
signal the Tusk that we have a fire and are coming up.’ 

Time: 0803 

The Cochino shot up like a porpoise, then lay on the surface, 
rolling and pitching. Benitez opened the hatch and chmbed to 
the weather bridge. Icy waves spouted over it, drenching him. 
His teeth chattered as he searched the ocean for the Tusk. Fog 
and driving ram hmited his vision. He wmced as freezing rain 
and spray stung his faee. 


First published in ‘The Reader's DigesT in 1950 



MIRACLE UNDER THE ARCTIC SEA I43 

From the intercom squa^^k-box next to him the deep \oicc 
of Lieutenant-Commander Richard ^Vnght thundered. ‘The 
fire’s m After Battery, Captain. Short-circuit Smoke and heat 
have driven everj'one from the compartment. \Ve’\ e thro\ra in 
C02 fire extmguishers I’ll be in the Forward Engine Room, 
sir.’ 

A more serious accident couldn’t have happened Another 
explosion might come any minute. As the Tusk broke through 
the mist hke a ghost ship. Lieutenant Clifibrd stuck his head 
' out of the hatch and yelled, ‘A lot of gu^'s are passing out, 
sir!’ 

‘Get all hands topside - qmck*’ shouted Benitez. 

Chfibrd gestured about the cramped bridge, designed to hold 
seven persons. ‘There’re about 6o men foniard, sir ’ 

‘Get the men up here’’ said Benitez ‘Stroz'* he shouted to the 
quartermaster on the bridge with him ‘Stand by to lash them 
to the main deck And make damn sure you have a line on ^ ou 
before you go out there.’ 

One by one Stroz and Bemtez pulled the gassed men - eight 
of them - to the bndge and piled them m the comer. A wave 
lashed over, the unconscious men stirred and groaned Chief 
Hospital Corpsman Hubert Eason began appljung artificial 
respiration. 

As more sailors hoisted themselves out the hatch, Benitez saw 
that many shivered in underclothes. Asleep off watch, they had 
had no time to grab clothing He quailed at sending them out 
on the freezing deck, but there was no choice. They’d last for a 
few hours before exposure got them. If they remained below . 
they’d die in a few minutes. 

Tw'o men tended Quartermaster Joseph T. Stroz’s line as he 
made his way firom the bridge to the lurching wave-swept deck 
Then the stream of men followed, one at a time. Shuenng and 
tense, they stood ankle-deep in water while Stroz lashed them 
to the superstructure. Ever)' now’ and then the ocean raged o\ er 
them. 

As the men kept coming up, some braised and bleeding from 
being pitched about, Bemtez selected a few to help him on the 
bndge: a signalman, a telephone talker and a few* experienced 
officers and chiefs. They took turns tending Stroz’s line and 
spelling Doc Eason on the artificial respiration. All except one 



144 reader’s digest omnibus 

of those gassed had regained consciousness. Thirteen men now 
crowded the bridge, 47 were lashed outside. 

Time’ 0836 

The ship was convulsed all over as if a mine had exploded under 
her. Benitez could tell by the jolt that the guts of his^seven- 
milhon dollar ship had been blown askew. Hoping that the hull 
hadn’t been ruptured, he patted the knife in his pocket in case 
the men on deck had to be cut loose. 

The telephone talker said excitedly: ‘Captain, there’s been a 
terrible explosion aft. Five men badly injured.’ 

* -j! * 

Below, Electrician’s Mate Oscar Martinez was desperately 
working the control panel in the Manoeuvring Room, trying to 
locate the havoc-making short circuits. He cleared all the after 
circuits, but the meters showed that the shorts still existed. 
Then he saw from the ammeters that the giant Battery Three 
was discharging power into Battery Four, causmgthe generation 
of hydrogen. Rushing to Lieutenant-Commander Wright in the 
Forward Engine Room, he shouted: ‘Sir! \Ve got to pull the 
disconnects in the Battery Room.* 

‘Give me the rescue breathing apparatus,’ Wright said to 
Martinez, who was putting it on. 

‘You’ll never get out alive, sir.’ 

Wright jerked the apparatus from the man’s hands, put the 
mask over his face and sprang to the door. He jumped back. 
The hot metal of the quick-opemng lever burned through the 
heavy gloves on his hands. 

A hollow boom echoed out from the Battery Room. 

Grabbing the handle -tvith his burned hands, "Wright yanked 
on the lever. The door opened and "Wnght fell backwards. Gas 
whistled out, followed by billows of black smoke. 

AVfright’s flashhght stabbed into the smoke for about a foot. 
Putting his hands out in front of him, he groped towards the 
switches. He saw a brilliant flash, then felt his body struck as by 
a great hammer. 

Long tongues of exploding hydrogen burned off all Wright’s 
clothes except his shoes With almost the entire front of his body 
' charred, his hands skinless, "Wright dragged himself off the deck 



MIRACLE TINDER THE ARCTIC SEA I45 

and painfully pushed the Battery Room door shut inch by 
inch. 

Above the crackhng and sisnshing of the flames, the engines 
thimdered explosively. Explosive hjdrogen had got into their 
fuel mixture and the Diesels were running inld The cxccssi\c 
speed might cause them to disintegrate at anv moment Engine- 
men ^Vllliam Pa^me and George Fedon, both badly burned, 
STViftly threw the levers shutting off the fuel supply. 

* al; 

Listemng to reports from below. Commander Benitez appraised 
the situation. Two compartments raged with flame. H\drogcn 
and noxious fumes were stiU being generated m the After 
Batter)'. IVith no power, the Cochino drifted hke a dead fish, 
buffeted waUy-mlly by wmid and water. Fi\e men, senously 
injured, were being given first-aid in the After Torpedo Room. 
The amateur doctors smeared ball-bearmg grease on the bums 
when the small supply of petrolatum from the emergency chest 
Tvas used up. IVright was likely to die any moment. The other 
13 isolated bdow' complained of headaches - some of the gas 
had leaked aft. Topside, all of the gassed men had regained 
consciousness. But Benitez saw the 47 men lashed to the hand- 
rail around the bridge cringe w'hen another wave approached. 
‘How long can they last?’ he thought. 

Time’ 1 12 1 

Commander Robert IVorthington, skipper of the Tusl, had 
-been attempting to come alongside the Cochino^ but the wand 
and sea prevented him. He had finall) succeeded, however, m 
shooting a hne over, attached to a rubber raft loaded with 
medical supplies. Men on the Cochino pulled the raft across the 
200 yards of high w’aves 

The Cochino' s radio had now' gone dead. Commander Benitez 
asked Ensign John Shelton, ‘John, do ) ou think ) ou can ndc 
that raft back to the Tush? They should be told w hat's going 
on . . . just in case . .’ 

‘Yes, sir, at least I’d like to tr)'.’ 

Robert Philo, a chi'Iian electronics expert, spoke up, ‘He’ll 
need help. Captain. I’d hke to go too ' 

‘Ver)' well.’ 



reader’s digest omnibus 


146 

Shelton and Philo inflated their life-jackets and sprang out 
from the deck, pushing the raft before them. At once the raft 
capsized and the men went under. The buoyancy of their life- 
jackets shot them to the surface and they grabbed the bottom 
strap of the raft. Then the line from the Tusk to the raft 
tautened, and the raft moved very slowly towards the Tusk. 

In five minutes they were alongside. Seaman Norman H. 
Walker lowered himself into the icy sea and secured a line 
about Philo’s waist. Then came a huge wave. Philo banged 
against the hull and went limp. Shelton was swept about a 
hundred yards away. Luckily Shelton caught on to the raft 
again and he and Philo were hauled aboard the Tusk, where the 
pharmacist’s mate went to tvork on Philo. 

Time: 1130 

Commander Worthington embraced Shelton when he got to 
the Tusk's bridge. ‘You almost didn’t make it, sailor.’ 

Shelton grinned for a moment, then, as he gnmly began to 
tell about conditions aboard the Cochino, the quartermaster 
standing next to him screamed, ‘Look out on the fo’c’sle! Look 
out*’ 

A huge wave broke over the deck, driving the men against the 
life-hne. Before they regained their feet a second wave struck, 
shearing off the one-and-one-half-mch steel stanchions which 
supported the life-lines and sweeping all 12 men and equipment 
overboard. 

‘Man overboard! Man overboard!’ Worthington shouted over 
the loudspeaker system. ‘Manoeuvring Room, stand by for 
emergency speeds.’ 

Far off in the frothing sea he saw that most of the men were 
holdmghands in a circle so as to stay together. Philo, unconscious, 
already had disappeared. 

"W hile making his first approach, Worthington saw that the 
men couldn’t hold a circle any more - they were dragging each 
other under. The wind and sea soon scattered them. 

The Tusk approached one of the men. As he was hoisted 
aboard, the signalman said, ‘Captain, the Cochino’s sending a 
message by semaphore. Here it is: “we may have to abandon 
SHIP.” ’ 

‘Acknowledge,’ said the TusKs skipper, compressing his lips. 


MIRACLE UMDER THE ARCTIC SEA li/ 

\\’orthington •was determined to get as many of his men as 
possible. For ti\o hours he frantically worked the Tusf, and 
succeeded in rescuing five. Then he ordered, ‘Head for the 
CochinoJ 


Time: 1350 

^\Tien the Tusk steamed away mto the rain, no one on the 
Cochino knew that she w'as tiyang to rescue her own men. ell,* 
thought Benitez, ‘w’e’ve got to stick it out somehow.’ But what 
could he do^ His ship had no power. He looked at the crei\ 
lashed to the superstructure. Tlieir faces were blue and 
impassive. They no longer even cringed as the cold water 
poured over the deck. Bemtez turned to Chief Torpedoman 
"Woodward. 

‘Get all those men up here.*^ 

‘Up here on the bndge, sir?’ 

*Yes, we’re going to pack them m.’ 

So they squeezed 47 more into the space made for sc\ cn - a 
large man in the openmg o\er there, a small one in the tin\ 
space by the bulkhead . . . you sit on his lap, Bob . . push o\ cr. 
you guys, 24 more have to pile on top of \ ou 

Benitez took off his jacket and sweater and ga\e them to the 
coldest-looking men. ‘I canU look cold,’ he said to himself But 
when he tried to stop his teeth from chattenng and his knee-caps 
from jumping, he couldn’t control them 

From w ay aft came a thud' thud' - it w as the cough ofspluttcr- 
mg Diesels The telephone talker shouted, ‘Captain, After Engine 
Room sa^-s the electncians have auxihary power hooked.’ 

Bemtez’s chapped face tiMsted into a smile. Xow his ship was 
alive again. 

Now he could get her to land 200 rmles awa\ ma\bc. 

Just then a great cr\ rose from the men: ‘The Tusll The 
TuskV 

There she came, looking hke a black match-stick on a w hippcd- 
cream ocean. The men on the bndge started joking. 

Time: 1528 

The two ships headed for nearest land, the Tusk leading. For 
five hours the battered CocLir.o hmped and fought to maintain 
her speed. She had no steering power; Torpedoman’s Mate 


148 reader’s digest omnibus 

Robert Davis manipulated the rudder control by hand with a 
wrench. 

Benitez received reports of conditions below decks. The men 
in the after compartments had headaches and nausea, from 
fatigue and from fumes. ‘But, Captain, we’ll keep the ship going 
somehow.’ The telephone talker described how Lieutenant- 
Commander Wright, although almost d>dng, had led the engi- 
neers in song. ‘He couldn’t keep a tune. Captain; but when 
we saw that badly battered guy trying to cheer us . He’s 
sleeping now, sir. Doc gave him another shot.’ 

Time: 2039 

Benitez felt the Cochino leap beneath him. This time the explo- 
sion wasn’t muffled and contained within the ship - perhaps 
the hull had split. From the schnorkel mast a column of smoke 
spiralled. 

The telephone talker said . ‘Captain, the After Engine Room’s 
on fire and is filled with gas. It’s been abandoned.’ 

‘Order all hands to come topside. Signalman* Tell the Tusk 
that we need help*’ 

Benitez looked aft. The stem had settled in the water about a 
foot. Water was beginning to slop over the After Torpedo Room 
hatch, the one by which the men below had to escape. 

On the starboard bow the Tusk had circled to make an 
approach. The distance between the ships slowly closed. 
One mistake of seamanship in the heaving waves and 
the boats might ram each other, perhaps sink the Tusk. In, 
m she came. Benitez glanced quickly aft. The men had 
started out of the hatch. 


Time: 2155 

Except for Lieutenant-Commander Wnght and Doc Eason, 
the After Torpedo Room was empty. Water sloshed and gurgled 
from one side of the compartment to the other. 

The morphine hadn’t worn off and "Wright rested easily. 
^Vith half-shut eyes he had watched the others climb the ladder. 
‘Let’s go,’ said Eason. 

Wright looked at his burned body. The fluid which had 
oozed from the raw flesh had sohdified into a crust. Slowly he 
lowered one leg at a time over the side of the bunk, while 


MIRACLE UNDER THE ARCTIC SEA I49 

holding Ws blackened arms in the air so that thc\ ^^ouIdn’t 
touch anything. 

Eason guided him toi%ards the ladder, supported him b\ 
grasping his least burned areas. Before Wright made it across 
the compartment, the water xmderfoot had grown \-isibl\ deeper. 

Stan^ng at the ladder, "Wright knew that no one could carr> 
him up. He also knew' he couldn’t make it alone. The muscles 
m his hands and legs were all burned out. He couldn’t lift his 
foot to the first rung, let alone drag 200 pounds of aching bodj 
up the long stretch to the mam deck 

Someone shouted down the hatch, ‘Huny% Mr "Wright, or 
it’ll be too late.’ 

"Wright thought, T’m blocking Eason’s chances ’ 

He looked up at the patch of grey sky - w av, w ay up - shining 
through the hatch. 

• ‘My God,’ he prayed, ‘I want to get out of here and so docs 
Eason. Lord, you’ve got to give me a hand up the ladder.’ 

Suddenly, miraculously, IVright felt himself being lifted up 
the ladder, his hands and feet barely touching the rungs. Half- 
w'ay up, Eason gave him a shove As he stuck his head out the 
hatch, a sailor dragged him the rest of the w a> . 

The Tusk and Cochino were only a few feet apart, the lurching 
bucking ships held together by moonng lines The onh escape 
route was over a narrow', w'ct plank. If a man slipped he’d be 
mashed between the hulls 

Someone said, ‘Here comes Mr "W right ’ All c\cs flashed aft 
They saw the grimacing ^Vnght shuffling painfulh forward, his 
discoloured hands clutching the life-hne as if it w ere barbed 
wire. Finally he stood in front of them and, willi effort, pulled 
up the comers of his mouth. The crew realised that this man 
with raw hands, with his hair burnt off, almost his entire body a 
puddle of w’elts and blisters, w-as trying to gnn. Thev cheered 

^Vright stepped tow'ards the teetering plank, staggered on to 
It, started across The gale lifted the ships w hen he was midwav ; 
but, lunging fonvard, he made the last few feet. Eager men 
reached out to help him. *My hands*’ he said. ‘Don't touch my 
hands.’ He faltered a bit but kept monng 

The other men followed Wright’s example, running across 
the plank w’hen it lay horizontal. The Cochtro listed badly now. 
All the crew' had escaped except Ctommander Benitez. 

F 



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150 

With the axeman on the Tusk beginning to chop away the 
strained mooring lines, the sinking motion of the Cochino brought 
the ships a few feet closer. Suddenly the plank stayed steady. 
Every person aboard the Tusk shouted, ‘Now!’ 

Benitez ran across. As he reached the Tusk, the plank fell 
between the ships and the Cochino’ s bow shot into the air. Then 
the ship slid imder the surface for her last dive. 

* * * 

The next day the Tusk reached Hammerfest, Norway. After 
rest and hospitahsation, both crews rode her back to the U.S 
SubmarineBaseatNewLondon, Connecticut, where Lieutenant- 
Commander "Wright and the other injured are satisfactorily 
convalescing. 

In their reports Commanders "Worthington and Benitez listed 
the men whose heroism and devotion to duty they particularly 
noted. Bemtez concluded his report with: ‘No doubt there were 
others who inconspicuously performed deeds worthy of special 
recognition. Their reward, if they feel they need any, they must 
find in their own hearts - that when duty called they were not 
fotmd wanting.’ 




THE dUEST OF OUR LIVES 

I. A. R. WYLIE 

If our Viking ancestors were able to revisit the scene of their 
adventures, their mouths would drop agape at our material 
gadgets. But they would v/onder even more, I think, at us. 
^\Tiy, with every possible and to them incredible means of well- 
being and security, are we so obviously and desperately distrustful 
of life and of ourselves? AMiat, they would wonder, has happened 
to man since he crossed ‘perilous seas forlorn’ in cockleshells in 
search of unknown continents^ ^\Tiat has become of that joy 
in testing his prowess against the forces of adversity? 

The courage of our ancestors had its source in a matter-of-fact 
acceptance of success and failure, tribulation and happiness as 

FirtS ^jtlish€d tn *The TUadtr't Digaf tn 194S 


THE Q.tIEST OF OUR LIVES I5I 

the ordained pattern to ^^hich a man must fashion himself. 
rel)ang only on his God and his own inner steadfastness. To 
them life was a testing-ground. Hoiv they stood the test, how 
they showed their mettle - not the number and prospentv of 
their days - w'as what mattered to them. I cannot recall a single 
Christian instance of smeide before the eighteenth century'. In 
those times men of worth did not fly from misfortune. 

^Ve, very' difierently, have been brought up in tlie tradition, 
if not the reahty', of happiness and security AVe regard both as a 
birthright. So that when danger and disaster overtake us \%e 
either camouflage our failure by some neurosis or i\e turn to 
meet the enemy’ bravely enough but i^tli a feeling of shocked 
bewilderment, as though a totally unexpected and unreasonable 
wrong had been inflicted on us. In the depression men who had 
lost nothing but their money' threw’ themselves out of their office 
■window’s 

But secunty is and ahvays w’as an illusion. Life, as our 
ancestors zestfully realised, is a great adventure or it is a mere 
process of vegetation and decay As a fhend of mine expressed 
it, T have been put here to solve problems. If I had no problems, 
I could only suppose that I was not considered fit to sohe 
them.’ 

Fortunately for us, this is still an age of limitless problems, of 
very real and deadly fears Can we regain that joy in ad% enturc, 
that high-hearted acceptance of its price which ga\c our pre- 
decessors not only the courage to endure but to endure zcstfulh 
and gallantly’? AVhat can we Icam from life that will sustain us 
through new vicissitudes and through the dark ad\ enturc ahead’ 

A greater menace es en than the atomic bomb is, on the one 
hand, the feehng that material things can satisfy our unrest and 
unhappiness and, on the other, the fear of h\ing, tlic consequent 
flight from responsibility’, the belief that an indiv-iduafs in- 
capacity to deal w-ith this limitless, threatening universe mc} be 
assuaged in mass organisation. 

I shall ahvays remember the young Nazi who said to me 
shortly before the war, ‘AVe Germans arc so happy’. A\ c arc free 
of freedom.’ He meant that he no longer had to make liis ow n 
decisions or even think his own thoughts He has, no doubt, long 
since paid cruelly for his illusion. 

I remember, too, the young Commimist guide in Russia who 



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152 

said to me proudly: ‘It doesn’t matter how we suffer now. One 
day every Russian ■will have a car in his garage, a radio in his 
home, all the food he can eat. And he’ll only have to work two 
hours a w^eek for it. All our problems will be solved.’ It was no 
use telling him that I had a car and radio and all I wanted to 
eat - and that I hadn’t solved my problem. Or that my working 
hours were my best and happiest. He wouldn’t have imdenstood 
or believed me. 

The mdmdual, even if he be Fascist or Communist, in the 
final issue must stand alone to battle \vith himself, his personal 
relations, his own suffering and death. No ‘ism’ can do our 
living for us. Instead, we must accept hfe for what it actually is - 
a challenge to our quality without which we should never know 
of what stuff we are made, or grow to our full stature. 

My oivn greatest support in h'ving is the memory of hard or 
dangerous times when I have behaved manfully. One of the 
most enduring of these memories was forged in a distinctly 
minor setting. I remember that I was walking alongside a deep 
and frozen canal with my pet puppy. Suddenly, in pursuit of 
some imaginary animal, Susie shot across the canal - and half- 
way over the ice broke under her. As I saw that she was about 
to droivn, I knew that I had no choice. I went in up to my waist, 
my shoulders, my chm; then with a final precarious plunge I 
broke the ice betiveen me and the frantic httlc dog, and struggled 
back with her to safety. Though I had a two-mile walk and 
five-mile drive before I could get home, and my clothes were 
frozen on me, I was never consciously cold nor did I catch cold. 
I was exhilarated and happy as never before. Nor have I ever 
lost what the incident bequeathed to me - the assurance that I 
can and will nsk my hfe; that, after all, I am not so terribly 
afiraid of death - or anything. To that extent I have become 
safe. I know, on the other hand, that had I left my puppy to 
drown I should never have been safe again. 

True, hunger for stability and security is inherent in us; and I 
confess that, though I may be laying down the laiv on the 
subject, I myself am still a part-time "victim of the illusions I 
deplore. I find myself counting over my material assets; I add 
my fiiends to my sa'vings, my professional status, the years that 
I may expect to live. Then suddenly, with a salutary shock, I 
reahse my bank may close, my savings, such as they are, may 


THE Q,UEST OF OXJR LIVES I53 

* 

fade into thin air, my fiiends may die. I sit o\cr this gloomy 
accountmg and sweat cold fear. But presently I pull m\ \\ils 
together. I slam my cheque book. I accept the \-icissitudes of 
friendship and the uncertainty of my da^-s. In fact, I accept life 
(‘Gad, Ma’am, ^ou'd better'* Carhle is reported to ha\e told 
a lady tv ho made much the same statement.) ^\^lat can I count 
on then’ The answer is simple: Mjself. 

This may not seem much of an answer. But in this reckoning 
I am not countmg on the ostensible ‘me’ but on someone else 
w'hom in dire need I hat e found within mtsclf, a secret citadel 
so deeply hidden in the jungle of daily happenings that the way 
to it is often blocked or forgotten and the key to the gate 
mislaid. Yet the ‘safe place’ is there. It has sheltered me before. 
I can find it again. Then why’ should I be scared? Suddenlv, 
lightheartedly, I am not. 

like many of us, I’m not dogmatically religious But I hate 
faith in God. Like Alalvoho, I think nobly’ of the human soul I 
believe in it because I have experienced its reahty Sometimes 
when things have gone badly I’\e found myself running circles, 
like a hunted hare with the hounds and huntcre at my heels 
Then, almost at my’ last gasp, I have remembered that other 
self within me who is neither defenceless nor afraid The 
frightened, hunted me has taken refuge in that hidden ‘safe 
place’ and slammed the gates in the teeth of pursuit. The enemy 
may batter at the_walls ‘Me’ he cannot get -And with that 
certamty there has come over me a great peace and sense of 
reintegration; I have been able to go out and meet the enemy - 
often to find he was no enemy at all. 

The other day some friends and I w ere discussing our d angcrous 
and difficult times m relation to the Good Life. ^Vc had all had, 
It seemed, the same experience* we knew* of the ‘safe place’ 
withm ourselv’es - but were not at first sure how we reached it. 
IVe came finally to one simple, homespun conclusion. "NVe could 
not reach it except we stood on the firm ground of moral 
integrity’. The w’ay to the citadel was closed automatically to 
the cheat, the har, the ty’rant, the self-seeker. It was closed to 
us whenever we wavered from an absolute code of honour and 
decency*. We betray’cd ourselves to the enemy with every un- 
generous, intolerant, dishonest act. We might appear prosperous 
and powerful. AVe might assume the bearing of courage and 



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154 

self-confidence as gangsters do. But at heart we should be 
frightened, vulnerable little people. 

I was in England after the wretched Munich Pact when the 
country ran away from its moral obligations, choosing to put 
material safety above spintual integrity. Never had the people 
been more unhappy, bewildered and disintegrated I found 
them again after Dunkirk. They had risen to the challenge. 
Still free to choose safety, they had chosen the almost certain 
rum of their individual hves and the total and final ruin of their 
country. I have never been among a people so serene, so 
proudly, cheerfully self-confident. They had stood fast in their 
citadel and were safe. 

The citadel is within all men and women of goodwill. To 
find It is an individual quest - the most urgent, significant quest 
of our lives. Once we have rejected material assets as safeguards, 
which they are not, we can accept them gratefully for the real 
good they can do us, sharing them with each other as fellow 
pilgrims should. We can march out of our invulnerable selves, 
all banners flying, to take risks, seize opportunity with strong 
hands, meet change wth wilhng adaptability. We shall be often 
hurt We caimot escape sorrow and pain and disappointment. 
But like death itself they will have lost their sting. Our heads 
may be bloodied. They will not be bowed. In a real, abiding 
sense we shall be safe. 


THE 

MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER 

I’VE MET 

TOM CLARKE 
Director, Argylc Theatre, Birkenhead 

Harry Lauder, the famous Scots comedian and singer, was 
my favourite adopted uncle. He used to visit our home twice a 
year. Always on a Sunday. Saturday would bring feverish 
polishing of silver and mahogany, new mantles in the gaslights, 

First puhltihed in *Thc Readet^s 'Di%esff in 1951 


THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER I’VE MET I55 

6xtra leaves in the dining-table. Tantalising smells floated up 
from the kitchen. 

Sunday itself was a day of mounting excitement, but alas, for 
us kids a day of antichmax My sisters and I were hastily bathed 
and packed off to bed at an early hour. Consumed wth curiosity 
in our nursery at the top of the house, e could hear the v isitors 



arriving: cohorts of aunts, uncles and friends, all in a jolly mood 
Lastly, to a rousing welcome. Uncle Hariy' him>clf - with his 
pleasant, raspy voice that sent thnlb up your spine, and his 
funny way of speaking that was not casv to understand. 

Shortly we could hear the guests trooping into the dining- 
room. Grown-ups seemed to take for ever over a meal. As we 
struggled not to fall asleep, there came to us the sound of 
hearty laughter: that uould be Uncle Harry icIJing funny 
stones 

Then, at long, weary last, the company made their i\-ay back 
to the drawing-room, and soon a fcis preliminary' chords on tiic 



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156 

piano banished all thoughts of sleep. Quietly we would creep 
out of the nursery and do^vn the stairs, there to listen enchanted 
to that gay and glonous voice 

Roamin’ in the gloamin’. 

By the bonnie banks 0’ Clyde . . . 

Roamin’ in the gloamin’, 

Wd my lassie by my side . . . 

And three little heads on the stairs nodded in tune. 

The friendship between Harry Lauder and my father, Denis 
Clarke, began when the comedian was just starting to make his 
way. In 1894 Lauder, then 23, forsook the coal mines for the 
stage. His faAer had died when Harry was not yet 12, and the 
lad went into the pits to support, his widowed mother and the 
family. He used to sing to his mates as he worked. They 
persuaded him to go on at local shows that had amateur singing 
contests. In time he became an attraction and promoters paid 
hiTTi as much for singing as he earned in a hard day’s work at 
the coal face. 

^VTten the chance came he left the mines to tour with a small 
concert party, acting as baggageman, bill-poster and general 
factotum, as well as doing his turn on the stage. Before long he 
secured a contract ivith my father at our Argyle Theatre, in 
Birkenhead. It was for the week of 13 June 1898, at four 
pounds. 

Harry Lauder made an immediate hit singing Insh songs. 
Delighted, my father went backstage to ask him to go on again. 

‘I’m sorry, but I canna do it, Mr Clarke,’ said Lauder, ‘I’ve 
no more Irish songs.’ 

‘But surely, Mr Lauder, you make more than one appearance 
in Scotland.’ 

‘Aye, but that’s different,’ said Lauder. ‘In Scotland, ye see, 
I’m a Scots comedian, but my songs are too broad for them 
doon here. They wouldna understand me.’ 

‘Try them*’ said my father. 

Lauder went on and caused a sensation. By the next day he 
was the talk of the town, and Denis Clarke signed him up on 
a five-year contract. So commenced a series of engagements 
extending over 40 years. 

In 1900 Harry Lauder went to try his luck in London. There 



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158 

He hummed them, sang them to a dozen musical phrases, tried 
to get a verse out of them. Suddenly the melody came, though 
it took Lauder and a song writer several weeks to get the words 
just nght. He introduced the song in Glasgow in 1905, and 
every night for 13 weeks ‘I Love a Lassie’ held up the show and 
called for repeated encores. 

‘Roamin’ in the Gloamin’ ’ was introduced in New York at 
the opening of Lauder’s tour in 1910. He had kept it up his 
sleeve for a year before producing it. He worked on it every day, 
he tried a dozen costumes before he decided how he would dress 
for It. He had rehearsed it a thousand times The care was not 
misspent. In all parts of the world it proved to be the most 
popular song Lauder ever sang. 

During World War I he suffered the great tragedy of his life. 
On New Year’s Day, 1917, my parents were in London, staying 
at the same hotel as Lauder. He joined them for morning coffee, 
saying that his only son, John, was due home on leave, when a 
page handed him a telegram. Lauder opened it and his face 
went ashen grey. ‘It’s John,’ he said. ‘He’s been killed out there ’ 

John’s death was so crushing a blow that, at first, Lauder felt 
that he could never sing or joke again. He went home to his 
wife, Nance, at Dunoon, overwhelmed with grief. But his iron 
self-discipline asserted itself, and three days later he returned 
to London to take up his part in the revue, Three Cheers. 

He went on the stage, joking and singing, until, in his 
patriotic song, ‘The Laddies Who Fought and Won’, he 
reached the lines ; 

When we all gather round the old fireside 
And the fond mother kisses her son .. . 

The ordeal of singing those words was too much and he broke 
down. 

From this great sorrow was bom his famous song ‘Keep Right 
On to the End of the Road’. Talking one day of his struggle to 
carry on after John’s death, he used the phrase, ‘I’ll just have to 
keep on to the end of the road’. The words stuck m his mind, 
and he put them to music. The song’s message of courage and 
hope brought comfort to many in sorrow. 

In 1919 he was kmghted by King George V-the first 
music-hall artiste to be so honoured The comedian was always 



THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER I’VE MET I59 

popular wth the Royal Famfly. The first tune he Mcnt to 
\Vindsor Castle to smg for King Edward Vll, he enquired 
which songs tlie King would like to hear. ‘Just begin at the 
beginning/ ^e court ofScial told him, ‘and His Majcst\ Mill 
tell you when to stop.’ 

Once after a performance at tlie Palace Theatre attended b\ 
King George V and Queen Mary, he Mas standing outside, 
bidding goodbye to a fellow arastc. 

‘Good mght, George, and good luck,’ he called to his friend 

The King, lea\Tng the theatre at that moment, called back, 
‘Good mght and good luck to you, Hariy ’’ and stepped into the 
royal car, chuckhng at the astonished look on the comedian’s 
face. 

In his later years Sir Harry was very proud of his knighthood 
and his ambition was to go doMTi in histoiy' as a great Scot who 
had done well for Scotland, rather than as a Scottish comedian 
But in his early days he played the theme of Scottish thnftincss 
for all It was M'orth. 

The best of tlie public stunts he and his manager Tom 
Vallance invented between them The first time I sum it I Mas 
having coffee with Lauder and Vallance in the croMded lounge 
of an hotel He sent a page for two penny ncMspapcrs, gning 
him a threepenny piece. The boy handed o\cr the papers and 
expecting that Sir Harry meant him to keep the cliangc. 
walked away. Lauder let the lad gel half-May across the lounge 
and then gave a yell that made me jump Mith fnght 

‘Hey, boy’’ he called, ‘Come back'’ \\ hen the bo) M'as still 
a dozen yards off, he shouted, ‘\\ hat about m) pcnn\ change’ 
I gave ye thruppence'’ 

Conversauon in the lounge ceased. All c\cs Mere upon us as 
the blushing page handed oscr the copper and (led, to spread 
the story far and Midc I toasted Mith embarrassment at my 
first experience of this gag that in later >cars I used to lose to 
see lum work; for I had learned that the Mctims of these pranl s 
were later handsomely tipped -M’hcn there m.-is little chance 
that the stor>* M’ould be spoiled 

Sir Harrj' had sinuall} retired s\hcn IVorld War II brolc 
out m 1939, but although he Mas then in Ins 70’s he decided that 
It Mas his duts to entertain the troops For the next fisc \crrs. 
Math lus OMTi little company of artists, he tratcllcd all o\cr 



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Scotland singing to the men in camps and hospitals. It must 
have been hard going for him. He wrote me' ‘I’m finding that 
Scotland’s a big country, Tom, for an auld man to travel 
several nights a week in the black-out.’ 

Harry Lauder did not entertain again in public, but nght at 
the end of his career he enjoyed a tremendous surge of popularity, 
when the magic of radio introduced him to a generation who 
had never seen him on the stage. 

In the autumn of 1949 his last illness fell upon him, and he 
died peacefully in February 1950. Four days later his friends 
gathered at Lauder Ha’ to bid him a last farewell. In a dank 
Scots mist we drove through tike winterbound countryside to 
Cadzow parish church in Hamilton. 

There followed a scene that none present will ever forget. As 
the coffin was borne from the church, in a whisper like a breeze 
among the pines of Skye, the organ began to play ‘The End of 
the Road’. The man beside me gave a little gasp. His eyes filled 
ivith tears The significance of that well-loved melody drove 
deep into our hearts. 

Back through the crowded streets of Hamilton, out by the 
giant slag heaps of the colliery where he had worked, Harry 
Lauder passed on his last journey to Bent Cemetery. Around 
his grave lay hundreds of wreaths, like a vast carpet of flowers, 
emblems of the affectionate memory of friends in many lands. 

As I stood at the graveside of my old friend, there arose in my 
mind the picture of a little boy and his sisters sitting on the stairs, 
waiting for Uncle Harry to sing. To how many millions, I 
thought, have he and his songs brought pleasure since those 
far-off days! Then the memorial card on Winston Churchill’s 
magnificent wreath caught my eye. There, in eight simple 
words, it seemed to me that Churchill had composed Harry 
Lauder’s elegy, and as I turned away my heart echoed the 
great leader’s tribute: ‘In grateful remembrance of a grand 
life’s work.’ 




We’re getting a lot of government these days, but we’d 
probably be worse off" if we were getting as much as we’re 
paying for. 




THEY SAW THE BIRTH OF 
A VOLCANO 

Condensed from The Pan American 
LOIS MATTOX MILLER 

Dionisio PuLiiio, a peon i\ho o\mcd a little farm m the 
state of Michoacan, i8o miles i\cst of Mcxieo City, is perhaps 
the only man i\ho e\er saw the aetual birtli of a \olcano - one 
of Nature’s most tremendous spectacles 

Late m the afternoon of Saturday, 20 Fcbruaiy 19 }3 j Dioni'^io 
finished ploughing a field and stopped for a moment’s rest 
Suddenly he saw a thin column of white smoke curling tin 
snake-hke out of Iiis field, 50 or 60 \ards away. 

Strange thmgs had been happemng on the farm that daj 
said Dionisio In the early morning, tlic earth had trembled 
angrily. Later, he had noticed that tlic ploughed soil had felt 
unusually hot against tlie soles of his bare feet. Now , tins strange 
smoke. As he went forsvard to imcsUgatc, he heard a mufiled 
report, ‘like the uncorking of a huge bottle’. Tlic column of 
smoke grew thicker and suddenly seemed to be dn\ cii sks^w ard 
by a tremendous force. Dionisio raced back across the fields to 
fetch his wife. 

The Pulidos never again saw their cornfield As Dionisio 
cxdtedly urged his incredulous spouse to liuny*, there was a 
violent earthquake, seismographs in New York, 2,250 miles 
aw’ay, recorded it. IVhcn Dionisio picked himself out of the 
rubble of the hut, and looked across the fields, his cornfield was 
belching fire and throwing large rocks and tons of sand ’Straight 
up in the air. 

By the time the Pulidos had stumbhnglv picked their wa\ 
o\ cr the trembling cartli to the ncarbs village of Paricutin th.''t 
place, too, was a shambles. The road was filled with panic- 
stricken people Blankets and shawls crammed with pcr'Onal 
belongings were piled on carts Tlic priest was calling for «trong 
men to carrj' aw a\ the sacred image of Our Lord of tlic Miraclc>. 

Fws; fiiMvs W in rfcf I'* 

161 



i 62 


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Nightfall never came to Paricutm, for the volcano that had 
once been Dionisio Pulido’s farm now illuminated the whole 
countryside, glowing brilliantly even through the dense, stifling 
curtain of smoke and sulphur fumes. Leaping tongues of flame 
were shooting into the sky and masses of stone, white-hot, were 
being hurled a thousand feet through the air. All the while 
tremendous explosions caused the ground to heave and surge. 
The thunderous roar was incessant, ‘hke hundreds of cannon 
firing in unison’. Clouds of fine black ashes reached roof-tops m 
Mexico City, i8o miles away. 

There was greater horror to come! On the third night the 
volcano cone, a huge cauldron of ruby-red, belched forth its 
first stream of lava. Bubbling like the melted ore of a thousand 
smelters, it burst from the bowels of the earth and tumbled over 
the nm, rolhng down the sides of the cone in a heavy tide 
20 feet tluck and 200 feet wide, gradually turning from a dazzhng 
white to a bnlhant red as it slowly travelled across the valley. 

Government officials, geologists, newspapermen and photo- 
graphers poured into the stricken valley. They remained for 
days, studying the amazing phenomenon of a new-born volcano 
in the \Vestem Hemisphere - the first since 1759. 

Several times since the volcano’s birth there has been a slight 
lull in the eruptions. Each tune, a tremendous explosion has 
followed, terronsing anew even distant villages. The sixth time, 
10 June, Pancutfn - as the new-born monster is called, after 
the dead village - blew open a new major vent several hundred 
feet above the original one, and started a second river of molten 
lava down another valley. At first it advanced 1,000 feet a day; 
a month later it had spread so widely that the edge crept 
forwards only ten feet a day. 

The two valleys now he buried under deep layers of lava, 
volcanic rocks and ashes. Paricutfn Volcano towers to a height 
of 1,200 feet above the plain and is three-quarters of a mile 
thick at Its base. 

As I flew towards the volcano, I first noticed its devastating 
effects 75 miles away. Black ashes shroud once-green valleys 
and mountainsides. Gardens and orchards have vanished. Church 
spires stick up, half buned under a mountain of slag. Springs 
have gone dry and the nver Cupatitzo is now a slow-moving 
stream of mud. 



THEY SAW THE BIRTH OF A VOLCANO 163 

Soon you sec a gigantic column of smoke swirling straight 
into the sky from the crater mouth, reaching the incredible 
height of 20,000 feet. Every four seconds there is a new burst 
of smoke, tons of rocks roar sky\vards, and a wide stream of 
blazing red lava gushes upward for more than a thousand feet, 
to spill over the cone’s edge into a molten mass that flows down 
the side m two huge troughs. 

The stifling sulphurous smoke soon sets you coughing. 
The billowing smoke, flying rocks (some bigger than the 
htde plane), and the flaming lava make you gasp with awe 
and fear. 

"We landed at the village of Uruapan, 20 miles from the 
volcano. -The towm is thick with volcamc dust, which turns mto 
a sticky mess w hen ram falls Roofr are sagging under the weight 
of the ash v\hich accumulates faster than the villagers can 
remove it. Sightseers 500 a day, crowd the place, for Pancutin 
Volcano is now' officially a tourist zone. 

Parangancutiro, a v'lUage which the natives prefer to call 
San Juan, is at the edge of the zone Beyond there is nothing 
but ash, lava, thunder, and awe The Mexican government 
insists San Juan is doomed and tned to evacuate the inhabitants 
Though they have to fight the ashes day and night, shovelling 
and sweating, they refuse to leave. They are making more 
money than they ever saw’ before, feedmg tourists, hirmg mules 
and hones to them, and acting as guides 

Not a green thmg, not a blade of grass, is alive m an area of 
100 square imles Fifty miles away, tender crops vnther and 
only the hardier grow’th, the trees and shrubs, still hves. The 
disaster has brought complete desolanon to seven villages and 
damage to many othen. Vegetation on the ferule farmlands 
iwthen and dies w'herever the shifung winds spread a blanket 
of ashes. Birds drop lifeless Scorn the skies. ^Vater is scarce, for 
the sprmgs have gone dry. 

The Secretary of Public Welfare sent a corps of docton, 
nurses and social w orken to aid in the re-locauon of more than 
8,000 people from the cuned region. 

The end is not yet. Pancutin Volcano shoivs no sign of 
dimimshing vigour. Terrific explosions continue to hurl great 
quantities of red-hot rocks into the air to fall back and pile the 
cone higher and higher; the rate of growth shows that the 


reader’s digest omnibus 


164 

amount of material being spewed from its maw is as great as 
ever. Lava still spurts into the sky, then falls and creeps down 
the mountainside. At night, the flow looks like a waterfall of 
fire. The Mexicans say, ‘Hell is still unchained.’ 

«2>e|C' 

WHOSE BUSINESS WAS IT? 

FULTON OURSLER 

When a woman jumped, one summer’s day, from a high 
window of the Russian consulate in New York, the crash of her 
body on the pavement was heard around the world. But at that 
time the world heard only a part of the truth. 

No outsider knew that Madame Oksana Stepanovna 
Kasenkina would never have taken that spectacular leap if a 
young Connecticut farm tvife and her brother, a novice lawyer, 
had not first intervened in an affair that seemed to be no 
business of theirs. This brother and sister set in motion a cham 
of events whose climax did more than anything else, before or 
since, to bring home to the world the reality of Soviet duphcity 
and ruthlessness. 

Now, with their permission, the story can be told. 

It begins in a country house in Connecticut, on 8 August 1948, 
a sultry Sabbath mommg. 

Home from early church, the family surrounded the break- 
fast table, where Daniel McKeon was dividing Sunday comics 
among the children. Louise, blonde young wife and mother, 
scanned the New York Times. ‘A terrible thing is happening!’ 
she suddenly exclaimed, and read aloud from the front page. 
On Saturday a 52-year-old widow had been kidnapped by 
Soviet officials from an estate not far from the McKeon home. 

‘Just listen to what went on'’ gasped Louise. 

Ten days before, Madame Kasenkina, in the U.S. to teach 
the children of Russian delegates to the United Nations, had 
been ordered to return to Moscow. Her passage was arranged 
on the Soviet steamship Pobeda. Instead of going aboard, she 
hid herself. When the vessel sailed without her, she fled for 

r tra published in 'The Readefs Digtsp tn 1949 



WHOSE BUSINESS WAS IT'’ 165 

protection to the home of the anti-Communist Countess 
Alexandra Tolstoy, agang daughter of the great novelist 
Madame Kasenkma’s purpose %vas to remain in the United 
States and become a citizen But Soviet raiders pounced on her 
sanctuary, and now it was feared she was being shanghaied to 
Russia, to be liquidated. 



These accusations were denied. According to Jacob 
Lomakin, Sowet Consul-General, who was now holdmg the 
woman under ‘protection’ in his New York house, he had 
merely ‘rescued’ her from bondage m the household of Countess 
Tolstoy. Known to ne\vsmen as a churlish fellow, the dour- 
faced Lomakm was today all smiles. He protested that he wanted 
everybody to know the whole truth. 

Reporters crowding his office were introduced to a pale-faced 
woman garbed in black, wth red rmgs around her broivn eyes 
Lomakm said 

‘Here is Madame Oksana Stepanovna Kasenkma. She came 
ivith us %vilhngly. She wants to go to Russia.’ 

These assertions were obsequiously confirmed by the woman 
herself. To experienced newspapermen, however, her assent 
seemed only an act of terrified obedience; they noticed her 
uneasy glances; her fhghtened air and plucking hands. 

On that humid Sunday monung, this same ugly news story 
was being read in millions of Amencan homes, yet it occurred 
to Louise McKeon alone that anything should or could be done 
about It. 



reader’s digest omnibus 


1 66 

Louise, looking across at her husband, was deeply moved 

‘Prisoners of Russian officials always agree with their jailers. 
There are homble ways of making people do, that. I believe 
that woman is really going to her death.’ 

‘Probably*’ agreed her husband. 

‘Won’t anything be done about it^’ 

‘Well, after all, Aat consulate is technically Soviet territory — ’ 

‘WTiy don’t we do something about it?’ blazed Louise. 

Dan McKeon bhnked in astomshment. A new light was 
shining in his wife’s eyes, a glow of dedication. With all her 
duties as mistress of a large house, mother of six children, and 
with club and church duties besides, why was Louise McKeon 
thus suddenly on fire? As the explanation dawned on him, Dan 
smiled. This was what came of talking recently to one of their 
oldest fhends - F ather J ames Keller, founder of a group known as 
the Christophers, who goes about inspirmg ordinary people with 
his behef that they can by selfless acts bring about extraordinary 
changes m the world. 

‘But what can / do?’ Louise had asked Father Keller. ‘A busy 
housewife, buried in Connecticut, can’t help change the world ’ 

‘I don’t care if you are buried in Alaska,’ Keller had replied 
‘Drop that feeling of personal futility and just try somethmg 
sometime. When you do you will not be alone; the Good Lord 
will be right there helping you.’ 

And now, on this Sunday mormng, Dan McKeon realised 
that for his wife this moment was her ‘sometime’ and she was 
going to try somethmg! 

‘But what can you or I possibly do in a case like this^’ he 
argued. ‘Only the State Department can deal with Soviet 
Russia.’ 

‘Just the same, I’m going to do something!' cried Louise. Dan 
McKeon rose and put his arms around her. ‘All right, darhng, 
I’m with you,’ he said. ‘Now let’s see - what could we do^ . . . 
Why not talk to your brother about it? Pete’s a lawyer. And 
he’s commg up from New York today.’ 

Now Peter Hoguet was a very new lawyer only a year 
out of law school. When he arrived at the McKeons’ home they 
found that he was as indignant as they about the Kasenkina 
case. However, he didn’t see that there was anything he could do. 

‘But no Amencan could kidnap another American and get 



WHOSE BUSINESS WAS IT? 167 

away w'lth it, could he^* Louise argued. ‘Are Russians allowed 
to break our laws^’ 

‘Sis, It’s not OUT business.’ 

Louise AIcKeon’s retort was a searching question: ‘Well, if 
it’s not our business, whose business is ifi' 

Peter Hoguet shrugged and gave no answer - then But on 
Monday night as he rode the tram back to New York, the 
question would give him no peace* ‘If it's not our business, then 
whose business is it?' Tuesday morning he dropped in on a friend, 
an experienced attorney. 

‘Women get queer ideas, don’t they?’ Peter began offhandedly, 
and told of his sister’s excitement. But the other man exclaimed . 
‘She’s right. WTiose busmess is it - if not yours?’ 

From that moment young Peter Hoguet found his days a 
hnng melodrama. 

First he deaded to rely on a pnnciple m law older than 
Magna Czxta. — habeas corpus (‘that you have the body’), which 
IS the right of any citizen behewng that another is illegally 
detained to brmg that person into a court of justice where the 
facts may be ascertained. 

On \Vednesday afternoon he offered papers to Justice Samuel 
Dickstein of the New York Supreme Court alleging that a 
w’oman was being held against her wtII m the Russian consulate 
‘through power, deceit and terror being exercised upon her ’ 

So cogent were his arguments that w'hen he left he clutched 
a document commanding Jacob Lomakin, Soviet Consul- 
General, to be m hlanhattan Supreme Court at Foley Square at 
10 a m. the folloiving morning, Thursday, and to have wnth 
him ‘the body of Oksana Stepanovna Kasenkinabyyou detained 
and imprisoned, as it is said.’ 

Now all Peter had to do was to lay hands on Lomakin, one of 
the most elusive of men. He studied neivspaper photographs, 
to fix in memory the image of his quarry - lean, pale face; 
jutting, chff-hke brow; eyes like deep astems, almost empty of 
light. 

In legal etiquette a laivyer of record does not serve his oivn 
summons. So Peter called a fhend, another young laivyer, Hugh 
Donohue 

Their rendezvous was the lobby of the Hotel Pierre at Fifth 
Avenue and 6 ist Street, across the street from the stately 



i68 


reader’s digest omnibus 


marble-front mansion occupied by the Soviet consular staff. 
Almost at the instant of their arrival, as if unseen forces were 
already helping, a black limousine drew up before the consulate, 
and a lean, pale man \vith jutting forehead sprang to the pave- 
ment. 

‘Lomakin!’ cried Peter. The writ was in his pocket; no tune 
now to pass it to Donohue; legal etiquette would have to go 
hang. Peter ran across the street as a cluster of reporters deployed 
around the Russian consul. Furious at the ambuscade, Lomakin 
raked his pockets and belaboured his own doorbell; lucklessly 
for him he was without a key. Peter sprang up the marble steps, 
brandishing his paper. 

‘Mr Lomakm'* This is a vmt oihabeas corpus for Mrs Kasenkina.’ 

Lomakin locked his hands behind his back. But Peter pushed 
the court summons dowm inside the consul’s buttoned coat. 
Lomakin seized the detested thing to throw it into the street, 
and that angry act betrayed him; the order of the court was in 
his hands. 

‘Mr Lomakin,’ exclaimed Peter, mopping his face, ‘you are 
now served. I’ll meet you in court.* 

At ten o’clock next morning the youthful attorney appeared in 
Foley Square. He, who had never before had a case, found himself 
surrounded by cameramen. In the courtroom he assembled his 
witnesses. Countess Tolstoy and her associates at the estate from 
which Madame Kasenkina had been kidnapped. But where 
were Lomakin and Madame Kasenkina? Would the Russian 
official disregard an order of the New York Supreme Court? 

’When Justice Dickstein appeared on the bench, Peter Hoguet 
arose and announced. ‘Your Honour, I am ready to proceed.’ 

But Russia was not ready. Indeed, it looked as if Peter Hoguet 
was beating his head against an iron curtain. In Washington 
the Russian Ambassador, Alexander Panyushkin, had declared 
that the ‘entirely inadmissible assumption’ that Lomakm could 
forcibly detain Madame Kasenkma was ‘incompatible with the 
dignity’ of the consular office. And the U.S. Department of 
State had telegraphed suggesting that Justice Dickstein defer 
further action. To this plea Justice Dickstein agreed for two 
wholly sensible reasons: 

(i) Word had been received from Lomakin that he needed 



WHOSE BUSINESS WAS IT? 169 

time to consult wth his embassy. In the interest of fair play he 
was to be ^ven that time. 

(2) There was needtoconsultwiththe U.S State Department 
on whether Madame Kasenkma had been sent to America 
under diplomatic privileges or as a mere consular employee. 
That techmcal point might determine the whole issue 

\Vhat the Judge did not know, nor thd Hoguet, was that a 
Soviet ship ivas to sail at midnight of this same Thursday; 
wthin a few hours, Madame Kasenkina was to be shipped out 
Then the habeas corpus ivrit could never be enforced 

Madame Kasenkina knew that she was to be a passenger on 
that ship. \\Tiile Peter Hoguet stood glum and forlorn in court, 
the pallid woman in the case was bemg held m a third-floor 
room of the Russian consulate. 

Through an open wmdow came the noises of the city cars, 
trucks, the shrill voices of children in Central Park nearby. 
Fantail pigeons fluttered on her ivmdow-sill, but Stepanovna 
did not see Overcome wth lassitude, lost in a men^ cloud 
land, she slumped in a rocking chair. She has told fnends that 
she scarcely heard the music coming from a portable radio on 
the bureau. If guards had suspected that Madame Kasenkina 
understood a little English there would, of course, have been no 
radio in the room 

Madame Kasenkma’s mind had gone back to the yetir 1937. 
In those dajis she was a teacher in a biological institute in 
Moscow and her husband was also a saence teacher. In the 
middle of night, heavy blo\vs on the front door aroused them 
from sleep; Soviet troopers broke in, seized her husband and 
draped him off. She never saw him again; never even learned 
his offence. 

From that moment Madame Kasenkma dreamed of escape 
from the Soviet Union. But she had guilefully concealed her 
hope as she played the role of a fanatic servant of the totahtanan 
state. At last she had been brought to the United States She 
had determined never to go back to Russia. Yet here she was, 
trapped like an animal - and, so she believed, no one, anyivhere, 
cared what happened to her. 

Presently she stood up and walked to the wndow. Looking 
out towards the street, she saw a sight that startled her, even in 


reader’s digest omnibus 


170 

her misty state of mind. A crowd was staring at the front of her 
prison house. Pohce had to hold them back. What had brought 
all those people here^ She must try to understand, try to clear 
her head. Last night a nurse had come to her bedside, thrust a 
needle into her arm, spurting into her veins the narcotic often 
used by Soviet pohce. Under its influence the mind of the 
drugged person becomes a dream world and all resolution fails; 
it was the purpose of the drug, Madame Kasenkina has stated, 
to break her will. 

Still blear-eyed from the dose, confused when she so des- 
perately wanted to think, Madame Kasenkina swayed dizzily 
towards the bathroom. She fumbled with the cold-water spigot, 
bent over and splashed the chilly stream over head and cheeks 
Now she began to think more clearly. Again she started towards 
the window, when she heard a voice from the radio uttering her 
name' What was the man saying, the newscaster with the 
excited voice? Intently she listened, hearing her name repeated, 
mispronounced but immistakable. She was overpowered with 
emotion. A httle part, at least, of what she heard she could 
translate. 

There had been court action on her behalf' This news re- 
kindled her xmnd and soul. Now she knew why crowds filled 
the street below. She was not abandoned. Somebody had tned; 
somebody did care' All those people cared' 

In that ineffable moment of realisation, Madame Kasenkina 
was inspired to any sacrifice that might blazon the truth un- 
mistakably to the people. She turned resolutely to the open 
window. Leaning far out on the projecting ledge she looked 
down three storeys to the concrete pavement of a walled-m 
yard. It was a moment of Gethsemane. Two floors below she 
saw a telephone line strung across the court. She aimed her 
body at that •wire, and jumped. The •wire, though it nearly 
severed her hand, broke her fall and saved her life. 

All the world knows the rest of the story. From a hospital bed 
the crippled Madame Kzisenkina was a more effective witness 
against tyranny than she ever could have been on a witness 
stand. And with what world-stirnng results! 

Consul-General Lomakin had to leave Amenca in disgrace. 
Other officials were also called home. In the pillory of inter- 
national news they, and the mighty Molotov with them, had 



A PLEA FOR LESS ‘HAPPY’ TALK I71 

been exposed as arrant liars. The Kasenldna case galvanised 
world public opinion against Soviet lawlessness. 

Today, Louise McKeon knows that her old friend, Father 
Keller, was right; that a single individual can set far-reaching 
events in motion The pattern of her brother’s life is altered, too. 
Putting aside his ambition to have a pnvate practice, Peter 
Hoguet has taken a Grovernment post in Waishmgton. 

And Madame Kasenkma? Wounds and broken bones largely 
healed, she now hves in retirement and spends her time writing 
a book of her experiences. Never again can she feel alone; for 
she is one in spirit -with all those who, like herself, would offer to 
die that freedom may hve. 


§JoK' 


A PLEA FOR LESS ‘HAPPY’ TALK 

Condensed from The Catholtc World 
KATHLEEN NORRIS 

‘The darlings - 1 hope they’re always gomg to be as happy as 
they are today!’ whispers the bnde’s mother, watching her little 
girl come down the aisle on the arm of the young groom. 

‘I think they will be - Dick’s such a dear, and they’re madly 
in love ivith each other!’ whispers back the bnde’s aunt. ‘Don’t 
they look happy!’ 

Happy, Happy, Happy. The foolish word rules the scenes 
that follow. May they ^ways be happy. We hope you are going 
to be happy. 

Everyone - even the most experienced of the relatives - speaks 
of happiness exactly as if it were a complete, concrete thing, tied 
up in one more jeweller’s box. 

The novelty of it, the passion of young love, the excitement 
of gifts and flattery, last for a few months, and indeed they are 
happy. And then the glamour wears away, and the silver 
tarmshes, and the wedding cheques are spent, and they are not 
happy Not for any particular reason it has all ended - they are 
like bewildered cMdren, not knowing what to do. 


Ftrs^ puVished tn *The Reaier*s tn 1925 



reader’s digest omnibus 


172 

‘We don’t love each' other any more,’ they say pathetically; 
‘we are not happy!’ 

As if happiness were an indispensable element m married life, 
Mary carries the discussion of it to the next stage, which is the 
ever popular argument about the effect of an unhappy marnage 
upon the children of the household. ‘Isn’t it better,’ asks Mary, 
with thousands of other ghb young wives, ‘isn’t it better to 
separate, with all digmty and consideration, than to have inno- 
cent children brought up in an atmosphere of constant dispute 
and nagging?’ 

The obvious answer, ‘Must there be disputes and bickerings 
between decently self-controlled persons'^*’ is passed over witii 
superior scorn. The voices of Marys’s friends chorus eagerly, ‘Oh, 
anything is better than for children to grow up with a father 
and mother who have stopped lovdng each other!’ 

Mary’s position now depends upon her ability to convince the 
world that Dick was ^vrong and she right, and she goes to any 
length to prove that no woman m the world could possibly have 
lived with Dick an instant longer than she did. To save herself, 
she commits herself to hate her husband, and she naturally gives 
that viewpoint to his children. And this is the first ffmt of the 
search for happiness. 

But where did the deep-rooted superstition begin, that married 
persons are going to find happiness ready-made^ Who, in this 
world, has a right to it, ■without a slow, painful struggle^ 

^Mien a scientist shuts himself up in a laboratory for years of 
research, when an explorer girds himself for a bitter trip into 
torrid or frozen zones, when a child is born cnppled, and 
some mother’s heart is chamed to this suffering little couch 
for hfe, we do not press upon them with idiotic queries as to 
whether or not they are ‘happ/. Such a question would be an 
insult. 

Marnage, humanly speaking, is a job. Happiness or un- 
happiness has nothing to do 'with it. There never was a marnage 
yet that could not be made a success, nor a marriage yet that 
could not have ended in bitterness and failure. 

So much good, so much bad, in the husband, the •wnfe, the 
house, the children, the income, the town, the friends, the 
health and the assets generally of the new social unit. A little 
more hardship this year with which to contend, a little less next 



A PLEA FOR LESS ‘hAPPY* TALK 


173 

year And at the end of 15 years, 20 years, success A developed 
and ripened soul, taught where to find happiness, not expecting 
to gather it out of the air. 

All marriages are ahke - and for that matter all hves are 
alike - in that the wife and husband seem to experience disap- 
pomtment in its hardest guise. The domestic, book-loving wfe 
finds herself mated to a pleasure-loiang man whose amusements 
are aU away from home. The baby-loving woman finds to her 
endunng grief that they ivill never have a child The youthful 
little enthusiast for jazz and dancing is burdened in her early 
2o’s with a third, a fourth, baby. The proud ivoman blushes for 
an easy-gomg unsuccessful mate. 

And that is marriage. And hfe. 

Each and every one of us has one obligation, dunng the 
beivildered days of our pilgrimage here - the saving of his own 
soul; secondarily and inadentally thereby affecting for good 
such other souls as come under our influence. 

Happiness has nothing to do with it. And in these days, when 
divorces and separations and unhappy mamages are almost 
universal, it behoves us to gird ourselves for a stronger position 
on the question, and to disunite the words ‘marriage’ and 
‘happiness’ once and for aU. Mamage is a great means of grace, 
rather than of shallow human joy. 

Speaking from a purely human standpoint, there is no modern 
institution so completely and dramatically a failure as the insti- 
tution of divorce. It is w'orking hke a sort of hate factorj- in our 
midst, creating enmities and silences and coldnesses in a world 
that for 2,000 years has been struggling to lessen the sickemng 
total of them. Its cruelty to innocent childhood is proverbial, its 
effect upon society is rmnous, and the thousands of embittered 
women it sets adrtft upon our commuiuties every year are a real 
menace to sober, self-controlled Ghnstian hiong. 

Each of these divorced women wants above all other things 
to tell you just how WTonged and how angehc she W'as, as a wife. 
If love is an essential attribute of heaven, then surely haters an 
attnbute of hell, and I have never felt so close to the latter place 
as when in the company of the divorced woman who is obhged 
to hate violently and incessantly, or admit that she herself was 
at fault. 

Committed to a marriage vow, assisted mysteriously by grace, 



reader’s digest omnibus 


174 

how peaceful it may be, on the other hand, to be obliged only to 
love and to endure' In sickness rather- than health, poverty 
rather than riches, for worse rather than better - until death. 
The bitter was foreseen, as well as the sweet, and there is no 
weaklmg argument involved, as to whether one is happy or not. 

We know, we older persons, that the motor cars and wedding 
presents and trips and admiration and excitement are only 
will-o’-the-\visps that the children quite naturally chase for a 
few giddy years. Surely it would help them to find the true 
secret if we dropped the consideration of ‘happiness’ from our 
own problems, and from theirs, where the big things of life are 
concerned, and gave them to consider instead the thought that 
real happiness must be made, not found, and that the materials 
right in their hands at this moment are its ingredients. 

"Which is perhaps only to glimpse the truth of the words : ‘The 
kmgdom of heaven is within you.’ 

THE DISCOVERY OF ANAESTHESIA 

Condensed from Hygeia 
HUGH H. YOUNG 

In comparison with surgical anaesthesia, all other contributions 
to medical science are trivial. Before anaesthesia, surgery was a 
horror! Surgical operations were dreadful ordeals, a hell to the 
patients, a purgatory to the surgeons. The frightful shrieks from 
the hospital operating rooms filled those waiting their turn in 
the wards ivith terror. 

The awful experiences of operative surgery and the attendant 
high mortality caused the best minds in medicine to avoid 
operations. Indeed, for centuries many major operations in 
Europe were left to itinerant quacks, and in England the barber 
surgeons did the work while the medical profession stoold by 
and vainly tried to assuage the anguish of the patient. 

Since the beginning of medical Hstory our records show that 
the never despairing hope of physicians was to conquer pain 

Ftra published in 'The lUadei's Digesf m 1926 



THE DISCOVERY OF ANAESTHESIA I75 

and thus be allowed to carry out surgical procedures \Mth 
tranquil thoroughness rather than in a mad rush against pain 
and death. 

‘Sacred, profane and mythological hterature abound m inci- 
dent, fact and fancy shoivmg that since earliest times man has 
sought to assuage pain by some means of dulhng consciousness,’ 
says Gwathmey. ‘In these attempts many methods and diverse 
agents have been employed. Ihe inhalation of fumes from 
various substances, weird mcantations, the external and internal 
application of drugs and many strange concoctions, pressure on 
important nerves and blood-vessels, magnetism and mesmensm, 
etc, have played their part in the evolution of ana:sthesia.’ 

Mandragora was used by both Greeks and 'Romans for 
hundreds of years to produce sleep, and Asiatics employed 
hashish to dull consciousness of pam. Later, opium and hemlock 
were used. 

It was not until the early chemical discoveries of hydrogen, 
mtrogen, oxygen and nitrous oxide in the latter part of the 
eighteenth century that the way was found for a scientific 
anaesthesia. Sir Humphry Davy said, in 1800, ‘Smce nitrous 
oxide is capable of destroying pam it may be used in surgical 
operations,’ and 25 years later Hickman anaesthetised rabbits 
ivith mtrous oxide and carried out many operations on them 
successfully ivithout a struggle. However, these demonstrations 
were unheeded, and the surgical theatre continued to be a 
torture chamber. 

But nitrous oxide and sulphuric ether, neglected by the 
medical profession, were seized on by the populace, who found 
m them a pleasaint means of becoimng exhilarated. Itinerant 
lecturers on the mairvels of chemistry roamed over the country 
and populauised their meetings by giving young people ether to 
breathe, while the audiences roared with laughter over their 
unconscious antics on the stage. 

Knowledge of these drugs reached even to the distant rural 
hamlets. In one of these, Jefierson, Georgia, many miles fi-om a 
railroad, Craivford ^V. Long was practismg medicine. Fresh 
fixim the University of Pennsylvania, he knew of the exhilaratmg 
properties of these drugs and firequently furnished ether to 
young men who met at his office for an ‘ether frohc’ in the 
winter of 1841-2. But let him tell his story: 



176 reader’s digest omnibus 

‘They were so much pleased with its effects that they after- 
wards used it frequently and induced others to do the same, 
and the practice soon became quite fashionable in the county. 

‘On numerous occasions I inhaled ether for its exhilarating 
properties, and would frequently, at some short time subsequent 
to its inhalation, discover bruised or painful spots on my person, 
which I had no recollection of causing and which I felt satisfied 
were received while under the influence of ether. I noticed that 
my friends, while ethensed, received falls and blows that I 
believed were sufficient to produce pain on a person not in a 
state of anaesthesia. On questioning them they uniformly assured 
me that they did not feel the least pain from these accidents 
Observing these facts, I was led to believe that anaesthesia wais 
produced by the inhalation of ether, and that its use would be 
applicable in surgical operations. 

‘The first patient to whom I administered ether in a surgical 
operation was James M. Venable. It was given to Mr Venable 
on a towel, and when fully under its influence I extirpated a 
tumour on his neck. The patient continued to inhale ether 
during the time of the operation, and, when informed that it 
was over, seemed incredulous until the tumour was shown him. 
He gave no evidence of suffering dunng the operation, and 
assured me, after it was over, that he did not eiqierience the 
least degree of pain from its performance. This operation was 
performed on 30 March 1842.’ 

Here, then, was the first successful attempt to render a patient 
insensible to pain during a surgical operation' Long did not 
rush into print, but hke a painstaking scientist quietly con- 
tinued his work, removing another tumour on the same patient 
a few weeks later, and then amputating a toe under complete 
ether anaesthesia in July. His meagre practice furnished him 
only a few surgical cases each year. He continued to operate 
under ether, while he bided his time, waiting for a major opera- 
tion before publishing his claims to a discovery that he well 
realised would revolutionise surgery. 

In 1896, I chanced to meet Mrs Fanny Long Taylor, who 
amazed me by saying that her father was the discoverer of 
surgical anaesthesia. I had heard only of Morton, in whose 
honour, as the discoverer of anaesthesia, a great celebration wais 
in prepairation in Boston. I waw thrilled when she said she could 



THE DISCOVERY OF ANESTHESIA 177 

put Dr Long’s documentary proof in my hands, and a few da^'s 
later I went through his time-stained papers, case histones, 
account books, aflSdaxTts from pauents, attendants, phj'sicians 
in his to%vn and elsewhere in Georgia, and from professors of the 
University of Georgia, all which lunched ovenvhelrmng proof 
of the originality of his discovery. 

Jackson and Alorton umted m claiming the discover)' in 1846, 
Morton admitting that he got the idea from Jackson. kVells then 
came forth with his claim of ha\'ing used nitrous oidde in 1844 
hlorton and Jackson subsequently fell out, and Dr Jackson, 
hearing of Long’s claims, visited him in Georgia to investi- 
gate them, and then generously wrote a long letter to the 
Boston Medical and Surgical Journal setting forth in detail the 
genuineness of Dr Long’s claims 

The next years ivitnessed a sad spectacle of htigation and 
controversy between the rival Neiv England claimants for a 
bonus from Congress for the discovery of anaesthesia In this 
Dr Long took no part, but a presentation of his documents by 
Senator Dawson of Georgia promptly killed the bill to give 
Morton $100,000. 

That the general! usage of ether in surgery came after the 
surgeons of the Massachusetts General Hospital had operated 
on persons anaesthetised by Morton in October, 1846, no one 
will gaiinsay But in this epoch-makmg discovery there is surely 
glory enough for adl. No true friend of Long would tr)' to 
behtde the great achievements of Morton and his surgical co- 
workers in Boston from which world-wide recognition of the 
possibihty of surgical anaesthesia caime. 

CALLING ALL DOCTORS 

Dr Maurice Ernest of London, founder of the Centenaunan 
Club designed to help people reach 100, believes m 
thoroughly enjo)Tng life. His favourite stoiy is about the 
man who w’anted to be a centenanan and was ad\’ised by 
his doctor to give up drinking, smoking and w'omen. 
‘■Will I hve to be 100 then?’ asked the patient 
‘No,’ said the doctor, ‘but it will seem like it ’ 



LINCOLN GOES TO GETTYSBURG 


Condensed from Redbook Magazine 
CARL SANDBURG 

When Governor Curtin of Pennsylvania set aside 19 Novem- 
ber 1863, for the dedication of a National Soldiers’ Cemetery at 
Gettysburg, the only invitation President Lincoln received to 
attend the ceremonies was a printed circular. 

The duties of orator of the day had fallen on Edward Everett. 
An eminent figure, perhaps the foremost of all American classical 
orators, he had been Governor of Massachusetts, Ambassador 
to Great Britain and President of Harvard. There were four 
published volumes of his orations- His lecture on Washington, 
dehvered 122 times in three yearn, had in 1859 brought a fund 
of §58,000, which he gave for the purchase of Mount Vernon 
as a permanent shnne. 

Serene, suave, handsomely venerable in his 69th year, Everett 
was a natural choice of the Pennsylvania commissioners, who 
gave him two months to prepare his address. The decision to 
invite Lincoln to speak was an afterthought. As one of the 
commissioners later wrote. ‘The question was raised as to his 
ability to speak upon such a solemn occasion, the invitation 
was not settled upon until about two weeks before the exercises 
were held.’ 

In these dark days Lincoln was far from popular in many 
quarters. Some newspapers claimed that the President was 
going to make a stump speech over the graves of the Gettysburg 
dead as a pohtical show. Thaddeus Stevens, Republican floor 
leader in the House, believed in ’63 that Lincoln was a ‘dead 
card’ in the pohtical deck. He favoured Chase for the next 
President, and hearing that Lincoln and Secretary of State 
Seward were going to Gettysburg, he commented. ‘The dead 
going to bury the dead.’ 

On the day before the ceremony a special train decorated 
with red-white-and-blue bunting stood ready to take the 

Ftrst publtshed tn ‘The Reader’s DigesC tn 1936 


178 


LINCOLN GOES TO GETTYSBURG I79 

presidential party to Gettj'sburg INTien his escort remarked that 
they had no time to lose, Lincoln said he felt like an lihnois man 
who was going to be hanged, and as the man passed along the 
road on the ivay to the gallom, the croiids kept pushing mto 
the way and blocking passage. The condemned man at last 
called out: ‘Boys, you needn’t be m such a hurry; there won’t 
be any fun till I get there.’ 



Reaching Gettysburg, Lmcoln was dn\en to a pnvate resi- 
dence on the pubhc square. The sleepy little country towm was 
overfloAvmg. Private homes were filled wTth notables and nonde- 
scripts. Himdreds slept on the floors of hotels Bands blared till 
late in the night. 1\Tien serenaders called on the President for a 
speech, he responded. ‘In my position it is sometimes important 
Aat I should not say foolish thmgs ’ (A voice: ‘If you can help 
it.’) ‘It very often happens that the only way to help it is to say 
nothing at all Behe^^ng that is my present condition this e\cn- 
mg, I must beg of you to excuse me from addressing you further.’ 
The crow’d didn’t feel it was much of a speech They went next 
door with the band and blared for Sew’ard 
Beset with problems attendant on the conduct of the w^ar, 
Lincoln had had httle tune to prepare his address. About ten 
o’clock that night before the ceremony he sat dovsTi m his room 
to do more w'ork on it. It was midnight or later when he went 
to sleep. 



i8o reader’s digest omnibus 

At least 15,000 people were on Cemetery Hill for the exercises 
next day when the procession from Gettysburg arrived afoot 
and horseback. The President’s horse seemed small for him. One 
of the commissioners, riding just behind the President, noted 
that he sat erect and looked majestic to begin iwth, and then 
got to thinking so his body leaned forwards, his arms hung hmp 
and his head bent far down. 

The parade had begun to move at eleven, and in 15 minutes 
it was over. But the orator of the day had not arrived. Bands 
played till noon. Mr Everett arrived. On the platform sat state 
governors. Army officers, foreignministers. Members of Congress, - 
the President and his party. 

WTien Edward Everett was introduced, he bowed low to 
Lincoln, then stood in silence before a crowd that stretched to 
hmits that would test his voice. Around were the wheatfields, the 
meadows, the peach orchards, and beyond, the contemplative 
blue ridge of a low mountain range. He had taken note of 
these in his prepared and rehearsed address. ‘Overlooking these 
broad fields now reposing from the labours of the waning year, 
the mighty Alleghenies dimly towering before us, the graves of 
our brethren beneath our feet, it is wth hesitation that I 
raise my poor voice to break the eloquent silence of God and 
Nature.’ 

He proceeded: ‘It was appointed by law in Athens — ' and 
gave an extended sketch of the manner in which the Greeks 
cared for their dead who fell in battle. He gave an outline of 
h'ow the war began, traversed decisive features of the three days’ 
battles at Gettysburg, denounced the doctrine of state sovereignty, 
drew parallels from European history, and came to his perora- 
tion quotmg Pericles on dead patriots: ‘The whole earth 
is the sepulchre of illustrious men.’ He spoke for an hour 
and 57 minutes. It was the effort of his life, and embodied the 
perfections of the school of oratory m which he had spent his 
career. 

"When the time came for Lincoln to speak he put on his steel- 
bowed glasses, rose, and holding in one hand the two sheets of 
paper at which he occasionally glanced, he delivered the address 
in his high-pitched and clear-carrying voice A photographer 
busded about with his equipment, but before he had his head 
under the hood for an exposure, the President had said ‘by the 



LINCOLN GOES TO GETTYSBURG l8l 

people and for the people’, and the nick of time -vvas past for a 
photograph- The ten sentences nere spoken m five minutes, 
and the applause was merely formal - a tribute to the occasion, 
to the high office, by persons who had sat as an audience for 
three hours. 

That evemng Lincoln took the tram back to ^Vashington. 
He was weary, talked httle, stretched out on the seats and had 
a wet towel laid across his forehead. He felt that about all he 
had given the audience was ordinary garden-variety dedicator)'^ 
remarks. ‘That speech’, he said, ‘was a flat failure, and the 
people are disappomted’. 

Much of the neivspaper reaction is-as more condcmnatorj'. 
The Patriot and Union of nearby Harrisburg took its fling: ‘The 
President acted wthout sense and without constraint in a 
panorama that was gotten up more for the benefit of his party 

than for the honour of the dead We pass over the silly 

remarks of the President; for the credit of the nation we are 
wilhng that the veil of obh\Ton shall be dropped over tlicm and 
that they shall no more be repeated or thought of.’ And the 
Chicago Times fumed. ‘The cheek of every Amencan must 
tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dish- 
w'aterj' utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to 
intelhgent foreigners as the President of the Umted States.’ 
"Wrote the correspondent of the London Times, ‘An^Thing 
more dull and commonplace it would not be easy to 
produce ’ 

A reporter for the Chicago Tribune, how'e\er, telegraphed a 
prophetic sentence : ‘The dedicator)' remarks of President Lincoln 
will hve among the aimals of man.’ The Philadelphia Evening 
Bulletin said thousands who would not read the elaborate 
oration of Mr Everett W'ould read the President’s few' words, 
‘and not many will do it ivithout a moistemng of the eye and 
a sw'eUing of the heart’. And a writer in Harper’s. Weekly ‘The 
oration by Mr Everett w'as smooth and cold. . . . The few words 
of the President w'ere from the heart to the heart. They cannot 
be read, even, without kindhng emotion “The world will little 
note nor long remember w'hat w'e say here, but it can never 
forget W'hat they did here.” It was as simple and felicitous and 
earnest a word as w'as ever spoken.’ 

Everett’s opinion of the speech, written m a note to Lincoln 

G 



reader’s digest omnibus 


182 

the next day, was more than mere courtesy. ‘I should be glad if 
I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of 
the occasion in two hours as you did m two minutes.’ Lincoln’s 
reply: ‘In our respective parts you could not have been excused 
to make a short address, nor I a long one. I am pleased to know 
that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a 
failure.’ 


SMS 


CHAPLAIN COURAGEOUS 

Condensed from Collier's 
Q^UENTIN REYNOLDS 

There had been 12 ‘General Quarters’ during the night but 
no enemy planes had got through, and now the dawn had sent 
the Japs scurrying back to their bases on Okinawa and Kyushu. 
March ig looked like just another routine day for the big Essex- 
class carrier U.S.S. Franklin, rolling along 53 miles east of 
Shikoku, on Japan’s doorstep. At 7 a m., fighters zoomed ofiFher 
deck for a strike at Kobe, and then the whole ship was quiet. 

Everyone felt pretty secure. The ship was in the midst of a 
huge task force. American air-combat patrol circled above 
Thirty Helldivers warmed up on the big flight deck. 

Captain Leshe E. Gehres stood on the bridge with his air 
officer and his navigator, peering at a low-hanging cloud bank. 
Down in the wardroom Lieut.-Commander Joseph Timothy 
O’Gallahan, the Catholic chaplain, was having breakfast wath 
a few officers. The padre was a dark, shght-built man with the 
face of a perennial altar boy. 

Then it happened. It was 7.07 a.m. There was no warning - 
just an explosion that shook the ship and, before the sound had 
died away, there came another, so qmcUy that it might have 
been an echo. 

What had happened? No one in the wardroom knew. But 
Captain Gehres, up on the bridge, knew. He saw a single- 
engined Judy flash out of the cloud bank, diving at 360 miles an 

First ptAltskii in 'The Header's DigesP tn 1945 



CHAPLAIN COURAGEOUS 


183 

hour. It came over the boAvs of the Franklin at 75-foot height, 
dropped one 500-pounder near the deck edge, siv-ung around the 
island, and dropped another aft. As the skipper said later, ‘It 
was a Jap pilot’s dream.’ 

It was ommously qmet now -for 30 seconds. No one knew 
that the quiet was merely the prelude to the most \aolent tragedy 
in the history of the U.S Navy. 

The first bomb, slicing through steel plate to the hangar deck, 
exploded among fuel tanks and planes. The second, landing m 
the midst of planes warming up on deck, blew them against one 
another, threw turning steel-bladed propellers against fuselages 
Flame and a heavy biUow of smoke covered the planes and the 
men and the deck. 

Commander Edwin Parker, who had just taken off m his 
Corsair, banked sharply, got on the tail of the Judy, let go a 
burst, and the Jap splashed. But he had done his work verj' well 
mdeed. 

For now the merciful interlude of 30 seconds was gone Under 
the flight deck, the flames reached the bombs and the rockets, 
and It was as though the world had come to an end The 
explosion lifted the huge Franklin and spun it sharply to star- 
board. A burst of flame 400 feet high leaped out of the deck 
edge. The explodmg flight deck burst upwards m a dozen places 
Huge rockets went off with weird swooshes, zooming through 
the holes in the deck high into the sky like giant Roman candles. 

The planes that were aft now began to bum fiercely. Hot 
bombs tore loose from them and rolled about. Ammumtion belts 
went off like firecrackers. Men lay stunned all over the flight 
deck. Men lay dead on the hangar deck. 

The CIC (Combat Information Centre) on the gallery deck 
burst upwards in a tremendous explosion, hurlmg the men m it 
against the steel overhead. Every man there died instantly, 
except Lieut. W. A. Simon, the only one wearing a helmet. 
Close by, in the ready room, a dozen pilots died mstantly. Fifty 
tons of stored bombs and rockets tore the Franklin's guts apart, 
50 tons of ready ammunition drilled through her decks. Twelve 
thousand gallons of gasoline burned fiercely mside her. The 
skippers of the cruisers and destroyers for miles around watched 
and winced as they saw the Franklin racked by 31 major 
explosions. 



reader’s digest omnibus 


184 

Father O’Callahan tried to make his way aft to the flight deck 
where the wounded were. He was met by barriers of flame and 
twisted metal. He knew how much dynamite and gasoline the 
ship earned, and that it was probably only a few minutes before 
the ship would be blown sky high He knew and he accepted 
the prospect of death calmly. 

Groping his way through comdors heavy with smoke, he 
reached a group of frantic men trying to climb through a hatch- 
way to the deck. They were jammed in the hatchway, shocked 
numb. 

‘One at a time, boys!’ Father O’Callahan called cnsply, and 
when they recognised the authority in his voice some of the 
tenseness left them and reason returned. ‘Take it easy. One at a 
time,’ he repeated, and one by one they hoisted themselves 
through the hatchway. 

Every man on the ship sharedsomething with Joseph Timothy 
O’Callahan. He talked their language, and they knew he was 
their friend When you got into trouble he was always there 
with a word in your defence. Besides, he was somehow more 
than a cleric. He played poker %vith you and he wote songs for 
the band and in port he’d have a glass of beer with you. ‘He 
only beheves in two things,’ they’d say, ‘ — God and the enlisted 
man.’ 

Meanwhile, Commander Joe Taylor, second in command of 
the ship, was trying to find his way to the bridge. The flight 
deck aft was a j'ungle of debris and bodies; the smoke was so 
thick ‘you could eat it and spit it’. Taylor dropped to the deck 
and crawled, using the deck seams as guides. Finally he found 
the island, scrambled up and tumbled over the side of the 
bridge Gehres greeted him. ‘Your face is dirty as hell, Joe,’ he 
said. 

By now every ship in the task force was figuring out some 
way to help the Franklin. Carriers had sent their fighters up to 
protect the stneken ship* the billowing smoke could be seen 
40 miles away -almost to the Japanese mainland. The cruiser 
Santa Fe and the destroyer Miller had come up and begun to 
play hoses on the flames. 

Gehres asked the Miller and Santa Fe to take off the senously 
wounded and the whole air group aboard. These men must live 
to fight from another ship. 


CHAPLAIN COURAGEOUS 185 

As Air Admiral Davison left he said to Gehres, ‘You’d better 
prepare to abandon ship ’ 

‘If \ou’lI give me an air patrol and surface support, I think I 
can save her, sir,’ Gehres said. Admiral Da\ason shook hands 
and nodded. 

Now the Franklin was dead in the water and had a 14-dcgree 
list to starboard. She drifted away fi’om the Santa Fe, but the 
cruiser, commanded by Captain H. C. Fitz, turned about and 
crunched hard and fast against the sagging side of the Franklin. 
‘Greatest bit of seamanship I ever saw,’ Gehres said. 

The explosions kept coming. A magazine containing five-inch 
shells blew up. But Fitz, on the bndge of the Santa Fe, ignored 
them and ignored the debris, including whole aircraft engines, 
that sprinkled his ship. 

From the bridge, Gehres saw Father O’Callahan manning a 
hose. Exhausted men numb from shock lay on the deck, but 
when they saw the padre ivith the white cross painted on his 
helmet they chmbed to their feet and followed him. 

Hot bombs still roUed about the deck If the heaiy stream of 
the hose hit the sensitive noses of the bombs they would explode. 
So O’Callahan directed his hose at the deck a foot from the 
bombs and sprmkled and sprayed them, keepmg them cool even 
though fires raged near them. The smoke was bad. Men could 
stand only a few minutes of it They w’ould fall back gasping, and 
O’Callahan would cry for more men. He seemed made of iron 
Gehres said after\^•ar^ that ‘O’Callahan is the bravest man I’\c 
ever seen in my life ’ 

Fire threatened a five-inch magazine below', loaded with 
shells O’Callahan saw the danger and rushed into the maga- 
zine, calling for men to follow. Heat had blistered the paint off 
ammo lockers, and heavy, greenish smoke poured out. The 
padre w'et down the lockers and the shells, and then helped 
carr\ the stuff out and dump it overboard. 

Flaming gasohne sluiced down the sloping deck, floating 
flames that licked e\eiyAvhere. O’Callahan turned his hose on it 
and swept it overboard. The fight to surxive went on. 

One of many who waged the battle was Lieut. (3 g.) Donald 
Gan. a former petty ofiBcer who had sened 30 3 ears at sea 
Gar) knew tliat many men were trapped m the messroom on 
the third deck aft. He ivalked through fire and water and blast 



i86 


reader’s digest omnibus 


to reach it - how, no one knows. In the messroom were 300 men. 
There were four entrances to the room. Three of the steel doors 
had been sprung by the heat and blast. The other exit was 
seeimngly blocked by fire, but Gary got through. 

‘Form a chain!’ he shouted. ‘Each man grab another man 
and follow me. Come in groups of 20.’ 

Gary’s small flashlight made no impression in the thick 
yellow smoke that filled the passageways. But he found a 
ventilator trunk. He led the men to it, removed the grate, got 
inside and began to climb. The men followed him and ivitW a 
few minutes lay gaspmg on the flight deck. Gary went back 
many times. He brought every one of the 300 men out to 
safety. 

Now, by transferring water and oil from starboard tanks to 
port, the ship was brought almost on an even keel. Captain 
Gehres decided to accept a tow from the cruiser Pittsburgh, and 
30 men on the Franklin began to haul in the eight-inch rope. 
Ordinarily this would be done by winches, but therq was no 
power. 

‘Yeave . . . Ho . . . Yeave . . . Ho,’ the men chanted as they 
hauled. The huge rope slackened and tightened and slackened 
and tightened, and every time it tightened a few extra precious 
feet came aboard. 

^\Tien everything was secured, the Pittsburgh began to tow 
slowly. At least the Franklin wouldn’t be a sitting duck when 
Jap planes came over. Most of her guns were out of commission, 
even if the men weren’t too busy with the fires to man them. 

Gehres noticed one 40-mm. battery that hadn’t been touched. 
But could he spare the men to man it^ Gehres sometimes thinks 
aloud. His 19-year-old Marine orderly, Wally Klimcieivicz, 
heard him thinking out loud now. 

‘Begging the Captain’s pardon, but may I have permission to 
man the battery?’ Klimciewicz said. 

‘'WTiat do you know about 40-millimetres?’ Gehres asked 
impatiently. 

‘I’m a Marine, sir,’ Klimciewicz said. 

‘All right. Marine Go ahead.’ 

The orderly scrambled down and half an hour later Gehres 
saw him ivith seven other men at the battery. Klimciewicz had 
gathered two cooks, one gunner’s mate, a yeoman, two buglers 



CHAPLAIN COHS.AGEOUS 187 

from the band and another Marine orderly - and none too soon. 
Far above the honzon, black puffs dotted the sky. Enemy planes 
were coming in. The puffs blossomed closer as nearby ships 
began to fire. 

Then a Judy dived at the Frarikhn Klimdeiricz’s 40’s popped 
at her. The makeshift crew had to shift the gun by hand; the 
electrical controls were out. The Judy, commg at 300 miles an 
hour, was a himdred yards from the ship ivhen she sueri'ed 
sharply. The 40’s had hit her, just enough to make her lose 
control She dropped a bomb and missed the Franklin by ao 
feet. KlimcieiMCz and his makeshift crew had sa\ed the ship 
from a hit that undoubtedly would have been fatal. 

T^vice dunng the afternoon Jap planes made desperate efforts 
to get at her. But now the whole fleet was fighting to save this 
amazing ship that refused to die, and more than 40 Jap planes 
were ’splashed’. 

Father O’CaUahan still fought the fires, indefatigable after 
ten hours of it. The heat was so mtense that the steel itself 
seemed to be blazing. But the padre walked through smoke and 
fire wth his hose, emerging unscathed. Men began to beheve 
that if you were ^s•ith him you were safe. 

Noiv and then he would pomt to the bridge. The bulk)' figure 
of Gehres leaned over the rail. iNTien the wind blew the smoke 
away you could see him, and Father O’Callahan would crj'out. 
Took at the Old Man up there! He doesn’t look ivorried, does 
hrf Don’t let him down!’ 

After dark Gehres received a report that Japs were approach- 
ing m large numbers He grinned. He felt by now that his ship 
was indestructible. As Commander Taylor put it, ‘a ship that 
won’t be sunk, can’t be sunk.’ He was right ‘Jap planes had 
been given the position we’d been at six hours before,’ Gehres 
explains ‘But had been toued 40 miles since then. They 
went to that position, dropped flares, didn’t sec us - and returned 
home.’ 

The night wore on, and Gehres breathed easier. He lighted 
a cigarette and inhaled deeply. ‘^Vatch that butt, Captain It’s 
“darkened ship”, ’ a respectfhl \oice said. 

Gehres tossed the cigarette overboard automatically and then 
looked to see i\ho had the temerity to reprimand the skipper. It 
i\’as Wally ‘I’m-a-Marine’ Klimcieiricz. Gehres smiled. This is 



i88 


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a good crew, he thought, a great gang to have along when 
you’re in trouble He tried not to think of the dead. 

The engineers below decks had stuck by their stations, 
although many had dropped unconscious in the 130-degree 
heat By mid-morning they managed to turn over the engines, 
and Gehres could throw off the tow. 

Men on ships all around the Big Ben — as her crew affec- 
tionately call her -yelled when they saw the battered giant 
moving along under her own power, her flag snappmg from her 
mast. They’d seen this ship blazing from dozens of fires. They’d 
expected her to take the final plunge any minute, yet here she 
was, a bit lopsided, smoke still coming from her hangar deck 
and through 20 jagged holes in her flight deck - but moving. 
She was alive. 

There had been more than 3,000 men aboard the Franklin the 
mormng of 19 March. Now 1,496 were dead or wounded or 
missing - the most tra^c casualty list ever sustained by a U.S. 
Navy ship. Since the ‘unnecessary personnel’ had also been 
removed, just 704 officers and men brought the Big Ben to Pearl 
Harbour. Today each man has a card of membership in the 
‘704 Club’ -the most exclusive club in the world, whose 
members brushed elbows with death and shoved death 
aside. 

At Pearl Harbour every admiral in Hawau waited at the 
dock to pay his respects to the Franklin, every ship in the harbour 
saluted her. Men looked unbelievingly at the huge holes in her. 
Thirty Waves had volunteered to sing the welcome song of the 
islands - ‘Aloha’ - and their clear voices rang out in i^ plaintive 
strains. 

The Franklin slid to the dock. The crew was draivn up smartly 
on deck. Yes - even the 270 slightly wounded. The girls looked 
. . . they faltered . . . they broke down, and their song died. No 
one could look at this stricken ship without breaking down. 
No one but her own crew. 

It was Father O’GaUahan who started it, and the whole crew 
took it up. Up on the bridge Gehres nudged Joe Taylor and 
grinned as these men who had returned from death sang 
lustily 

‘The Old Big Ben, she ain^t what she used to be. 

Ain’t what she used to be ’ 




■he loved me trdev 

A.. "OKO.HV 

beRNADIKE ,B,h.Bb front scat or the 

T- «« u 

«Srfor most ."Shtnere headed north 


DeceniDci „ reckon k u 

towards to^ ““J^inake the all the way from 

for she as the son i „^„ed on horscbacK, a ^ ^jne 

That mo^8 ^ „^,e do™ ^T^m’s -fe had 

parsonage The p ^ , borro%sed 

Johnston, had *j^orJcs and _d- her household 

ChSr shadon m Sarah-s 

hrm^ng back a nets rn 

^ » Tii^SSf *" 


igo reader’s digest omnibus 

steady blue-grey eyes when she thought about that. Maybe 
they’d feel she didn’t belong. 

A raft ferried the wagon across the half-frozen Ohio River. 
The air sharpened; the wheels sank to their hubs in snow. After 
five days they came to a log cabin in a small clearing on Little 
Pigeon River. It had no windows, and the door was only a 
deerskin-covered opemng. A stick chimney plastered with clay 
ran up the outside. 

Tom hallooed and a little boy ran out of the door. He was 
thin as a scarecrow, and wore a ragged shirt and tattered deer- 
skin pants. But it was the look in his eyes that went to Sarah’s 
heart, although it was a look she couldn’t put a name to. She 
got down from the wagon, opened her arms like a couple of 
wings, and folded him close. 

T reckon we’ll be good friends,’ she said. ‘Howdy, Abe 
Lincoln.’ 

She had never been in the wilderness before; she had known 
small-to\vn comfort This was a one-room cabin, with no real 
floor, only packed dirt. The bedstead was a makeshift of boards 
laid on sticks against the wall, with a mattress of loose com- 
husks. The bedcovers were skins and cast-off clothing. Ten-year- 
old Abe and his 12-year-old sister had always slept on piles of 
leaves up in the loft, to which they climbed by pegs fastened 
to the wall. The furmture was some three-legged stools and a 
table axed smooth on top, bark side under. Dennis Hanks, an 
1 8-year-old cousm of Tom’s first wife, Nancy Hanks, was living 
with the family and had been trying to cook with the help of a 
Dutch oven, one battered pot, and a couple of iron spoons. 
Although she must have expected a place far better than this, 
all Sarah said was, ‘Tom, fetch me a load of firewood. I aim 
to heat some water.’ 

This new stepmother with the rosy face and the bright curly 
hair wasted no time. As soon as the water steamed, she brought 
out of her o^vn belongings a gourd full ofhome-made soap. Then, 
in front of the hot fire, she scrubbed Abe and his sister and 
combed their matted hair \vith her own clean shell comb. When 
the wagon was unpacked, little Abe, who had not said a word, 
ran his bony fingers over such wonderful things as a walnut 
bureau, a clothes chest, a loom and real chairs. And that night, 
when he went to bed in the loft, he did not find the leaves; she 



*HE LOVED ME TRULY* igi 

had thrown them outdoors. He had a feather mattress and 
a feather pillow, and enough blankets so he w’as warm all 
mght 

In a couple of weeks, a body wouldn’t have kno\\Ta the place. 
Sarah had what folks called ‘faculty’; she worked hard and she 
could make other people work, too. Even Tom, who meant well 
but was likely to let things shde She never said he must do thus 
and so; she w'as too ivise and too gentle. But somehow Tom 
found himself making a real door for the cabin and cutting a 
%vmdo^v, like she wanted. He put do^vm a floor, chinked up tlie 
cracks betiveen the logs, whitewashed the inside walls Abe 
couldn’t get over how sightly it \vas And she wove Abe shirts 
out of homespun cloth, colouring them with dye she steeped 
out of roots and barks She made him deerskin breeches Aat 
really fitted, and moccasins, and a coon-skin cap She had a 
mirror and she rubbed it bright and held it up so’s he could sec 
himself- It was the first time he had ever seen himself- and he 
said, ‘Land o’Goshen, is that me?' 

Sometimes, in the early mornings, when Sarah laid a new lire 
in the ashes, she got to thinking it was queer how things come 
about WTien Tom Lincoln had courted her, 14 years ago, she 
had turned him down for Daniel Johnston Tom had been 12 
years married to Nancy Hanks, who died so sudden from the 
‘milk sick’. And now, after all these years, Tom and she wxrc 
together again, wdth his children and her children to feed and 
do for. 

The cabin was 18 feet square and there w’cre eight people 
under its flimsy roof Sarah w'as taking what was left of two 
households, along with the orphan boy, Denms Hanks Some- 
how' she must make them into a family of folks who loved each 
other, she w'anted them to feel hkc they had alwa^'S been 
together. There w’as plenty of chance for trouble, what with the 
two sets of young’uns w’ho had never laid eyes on each other 
till now, and all the stories Abe and his sister had heard folks 
tell about stepmothers. Those first weeks, Sarah felt mighty 
anxious. Especially about Abe, though he did what she said 
and never answ'ered her back. Once she saw' him looking at her 
real serious when she w'as putting some johnnycake into the 
oven. ‘All my hfe I’m goin’ to like johnnveake best,’ he said 
suddenly, and then scooted through the door. You couldn’t 



102 reader’s digest omnibus 

figure Abe out. As Dennis said, ‘There’s somethin’ peculiarsome 
about Abe.’ 

Maybe, if it hadn’t been for her, he wouldn’t have lived to 
be a man. He had always grown so fast and never had enough to 
eat. But now, when he had eaten enough johnnycake and meat 
and potatoes that were cooked through and not just burned on 
top, he stopped looking so pinched and putty-coloured. And 
he wasn’t so quiet any more. Now he had some flesh on his 
bones, he wasn’t solemn. Why, he was fuller of fun than any- 
body. He learned to tell yams, hke his father, but he tried them 
out on Sarah first, and she laughed m the right places. She 
stood up for him, too, when he’d laugh out loud, all of a sudden, 
at things nobody else could understand, and Tom thought he 
was being sassy. ‘Abe’s got a right to his own jokes,’ Sarah 
said. 

Sometimes Sarah thought, all to herself, that she loved Abe 
more than her own children. But she didn’t really. It was just 
that she knew, deep down in her heart where she told nobody 
but God, that Abe was somebody special, who didn’t belong to 
her but was hers to keep for a while. 

When Abe was little, Tom hadn’t minded his walking nine 
miles to the ‘blab school’ where the scholars learned their letters 
by saying them over and over out loud. But now Abe was older 
and stronger, Tom didn’t see why he shouldn’t stay home and 
chop down trees and cradle wheat or hire out to the neighbours 
for husking com at 30 cents a day. Of course, he felt kind of 
proud when the neighbours came to have Abe write their letters 
with the pen he had made out of a buzzard’s quill and the 
bner-root ink. But Abe was ‘reachin’ too fur’ when he kept 
reading books instead of clearing swamps; Tom told Abe you 
didn’t need to know so almighty much to get along. 

If Sarah hadn’t taken Abe’s part against his father, Abe 
wouldn’t have got as much schooling as he did, though goodness 
knows it wasn’t much. He learned, as the folks said, ‘by littles’. 
But through the years she held out against Tom, no matter if 
Tom said she was plumb crazy 

Abe would rather read than eat. He’d read in the morning, 
soon’s It was light enough to see, he’d read in the evening when 
the chores were done; he’d read when he ploughed, while the 
horse was resting at the end of the row. He walked 17 miles to 



‘he loved me truly’ 193 

borrow books from La\\-\er Pitcher at Rockport. Fables. 

Robinson Crusoe. Pilgrim's Progress. Shakespeare. The Statutes of 
Indiana. "WTien his borrowed \Veems’ Life of Washington got 
rained on, he worked three full da^'s to pa^ for it. Once he 
gave a man 50 cents for an old barrel and found Blackstonc’s 
Commentaries at the bottom of it, and \ou’d think he’d found a 
gold-mine. He began reading late at night by the fire, and when 
Tom complamed, Sarah said, ‘Leave the boy be.’ She alwajs 
let him read imtil he quit of his own accord, and if he fell asleep 
there on the floor she would get a quilt and wrap it gcntl) 
around him. 

He did his ciphenng on a board, and when the board got 
too black, he’d plane if ofifand start agam. If he read something 
he liked a lot, he’d write it down He was alwa\'s wnting, and 
w'as most always out of paper. He’d put charcoal marks on a 
board, for a sign of what he wanted to write, and when he got 
paper he’d copy it all down. And he’d read it out loud to Sarah 
by the fire, ^ter Tom and the rest had gone to bed ‘Did I 
make it plain’’ he always asked her. It made her real proud 
when he asked her about his wnting, and she answered him 
as w’ell as anybody could who didn’t know how to read or 
wnte. 

They told each other things thev told nobod> else. He had 
dark spells when nobody but she could make him hear. Spells 
when he thought it w'as no use to hope and to plan Abe needed 
a lot of encouraging. 

In 1830, Tom decided to look for better farmland in Illinois, 
and the family moved to Coles County on Goose Nest Prainc 
There Abe helped his father build the tivo-room cabin where 
Sarah and Tom were to spend the rest of their In cs. The place 
W’as hardly built when the day came that Sarah had foreseen, 
the day when Abe would leave home. He was a man grown, 
22 ) ears old, and he had a chance to clerk in Denton Offut’s 
store over in New’ Salem. There was nothing more she could do 
for Abe, for the last tunc she had bra\cd out Tom so’s Abe 
could leam; for the last time she had kept the cabin quiet so’s 
Abe could do his reading. 

At first he came back often, and later on, after he got to be a 
lawyer, he \*isited Goose Nest Prainc twice a \car. E\cr} time 
Sarah saw- him, it seemed like his mind was bigger Other folks’ 



194 reader’s digest omnibus 

minds got to a place and then stopped, but Abe’s kept on 
growing. He told her about his law cases, and, as time went on, 
he told her about his going to the state legislature and his 
marrying Mary Todd. After Tom died, in 1851, Abe saw to it 
that she didn’t want for anythmg. 

When she heard Abe was going to Charleston for his fourth 
debate with Stephen A. Douglas, she went there, too, without 
saying a word to Abe. It would be enough - it had always been 
enough - just to watch him. She was one of the crowd on the 
street as the parade went by. There was a big float drawn by a 
yoke of oxen, carrying three men sphtting rails, and a big sign, 
‘Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter, the Ox Driver, the Giant Killer’ 
Was that her Abe? And now here he came, riding in a shiny 
black carnage, and tipping his tall black hat right and left. Was 
that her Abe? She tried to make herself small, but he saw her 
and made the carriage stop. Then, right in fi-ont of everybody, 
he got out of the carriage and came over and put his arms 
around her and kissed her. Yes, that was her Abe. 

She wasn’t the crying kind, but she cried when he was elected 
President. Alone, where nobody could see her. In the winter of 
1861, before he went to Washington, he crossed the state to see 
her, coming by train and carnage in the mud and slush to say 
goodbye. He brought her a present, a length of black alpaca for 
a dress; it was really too beautiful to put the scissors into; after 
Abe went, she’d just take it out and feel of it once in a while. 

Abe looked tired, and he had a lot on his mind, but they had 
a fine talk. Even when they were silent, they still said things to 
each other, and he still set store by what she thought. When he 
kissed her goodbye, he said he’d see her soon, but she knew 
somehow that she would not see him again. 

Four years later, they came and told her he was dead. The 
newspapers wrote the longest pieces about his real mother, and 
that was like it should be, but some folks came and asked her 
what sort of boy Abe had been. And she wanted to tell them, but 
It was hard to find the words. ‘Abe was a good boy,’ she said. 
‘He never gave me a cross word or look. His mind and mine, 
what little I had, seemed to run together.’ And then she added, 
‘He loved me truly, I think.’ 

Often, during the four yeeu-s that remained to her, she would 
sit of an evening and think of Abe. Being a mother, she did not 



‘we have with us tonight — ' 195 

think about him as President, as the man about whom tliey sang. 
*AVe are commg, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand 
strong.’ She remembered him as a little boy. She was baking 
johnnycake for him; she was wea\Tng him a shirt; she was 
covering him with a blanket when he had fallen asleep o\ cr his 
books, trying, as long as she could, to keep him safe firom the 
cold. 

♦ ♦ * 

Sarah Bush Lincoln tvas buned beside her husband m Shiloh 
Cemetery- Her death, on 10 December 1869, passed unnoticed 
by the nation. For many years she was not even mentioned bv 
historians and biographers. Not until 1924 were the graics of 
Thomas and Sarah Bush Lincoln marked with a suitable stone. 
More recently, their Goose Nest Praine home site has been 
made into a state park, with a reproduction of the tv\o-room 
cabin w'hich Abraham Lincoln helped to build. And only in the 
last few years have Americans come to know that, is hen 
Abraham Lincoln said, ‘All that I am I owe to my angel 
mother,’ he was speaking of his stepmother. 

‘WE HAVE WITH US TONIGHT ’ 

Condensed from The Rolarian 
DALE CARNEGIE 

Y ou have been imited to make a speech, and have come to me 
with perplexing questions. I’ll try to answer them. 

‘Shall I accept (he tnvtlafion?’ Yes. It will be a lot of fun, and 
prove one of Ae most thnlhng expencnces of y our life. Indeed, 
if I were you, I w'ouldn’t even wait for an imitation to make a 
speech. For the good of my soul, I’d seize the first opportunity' 
to make one voluntarily - and every* legitimate opportunity 
thereafter: ofiice conference, club meeting, church gathering. 
Parent-Teachers meeting. For pubhc speaking is a sure w ay* to 
leadership. I know* hundreds of men who have created more 
prestige by one five-minute talk than they had by fi\c years of 


Ftni in *Thd SASi/f t Dtgesf in I'JSS 



reader’s digest omnibus 


196 

gnnding work Once successfully master an audience with a 
short talk and thereafter you’ll be a better master of yourself 

You won’t make a brilliant speech. But don’t let that worry 
you. Few people do. If you doubt me, turn on your radio, or 
listen to the talks in House or Senate Washington 

'But I never faced an audience in my life. I’m afraid I’ll faint.’ Oh, 
no, you won’t. Dunng the past 24 years, I have watched 10,000 
busmess men and women face audiences for the first time Only 
one fainted. Of him I prophesied right then that wthin a few 
weelcs he would actually enjoy talking in public. He did. He 
continued to meet with a public speaking group twice a week 
after that for years. 

Of course you will be nervous at first Everyone is. Bryan was. 
So were Theodore Roosevelt and Mussohni and Lloyd George. 
But there are certain things that ^vlll help you develop courage 
in advance. One is practice. Practice. Practice. WTiere^ Any- 
where. When I was riding horse-back to college out in Missoun 
years ago, I used to go out m the bam and practice my talks to 
the horses and fhghtened pigeons. Talk to friends about the 
points you are going to discuss. Call in the neighbours and 
practice on them. Talk to any available group that will hsten. 

Don’t imagine it is going to be difficult. You could make a 
good talk right now if somebody knocked you down. You have 
frequently made good talks at home when you were mad. 
Remember the heat and force and colour you put into your 
talks then. All you have to do is to release that same intensity of 
feeling before an audience. Good public speaking is merely 
enlarged conversation. Nothing more. 

Remember nothing is holding you back except your,own 
thoughts. So stop thinking of yourself. Think of your subject, 
your audience. ‘Do the thing you fear to do,’ said Emerson, 
‘and the death of fear is absolutely certain.’ 

'What shall I talk abouPl Talk about what interests you - from 
pouter pigeons to Julius Caesar, speak with enthusiasm and you 
are sure to interest your audience. I have seen that happen 
thousands of times. I know a man who could hold you and 5,000 
other people spellbound by talking about his hobby of collecting 
Onental rugs. You may know more about catfish or cyclones or 
cleaning fluids than anyone else in the audience. If so, that may 
be a good topic for you. Don’t try to get a topic out of the. 



HAVE WITH HS TONIGHT — ■’ I97 

newspapers or the encyclopedia or a book of speeches Dig \ our 
topic -or, if 7 our subject is assigned, 7 our approach -out of 
your own head and heart. 

‘How shall I prepare?’ That question takes us nght into the 
secret chambers of good speaking Three-fourths of the success 
of your talk will depend on whether or not you are adequately 
prepared. Most speakers ivho fail do so because the> wouldn't 
take the time to prepare. Harr>' Emerson Fosdick, one of the 
most eloquent speakers m America, used to say that it took him 
10 hours to prepare a lo-mmute talk and 20 hours for a 
20-minute talk. 

You can stand up right now' and talk about some childhood 
exploit or how you got started in business or the most cxating 
adventure of your life. You ha\e h\ed through these things The 
secret of preparation is to investigate your subject so thoroughly 
that it becomes for the time being as intimate a part of you as 
these vivid experiences Suppose, for example, >ou ha\c been 
asked to talk on the subject, Ts the public honest?’ First, sit 
down and check up your own experiences. Then go to the 
merchants in your towm who do credit business and ask them 
for their expenences Ask your local dentists and doctors. If 
there is a Better Business Bureau in your towm, interview' the 
manager. ^V^te the National Association of Credit Men asking 
w'here you can find matenal. Go to >our public hbrar). Spend 
an hour of preparation for ever)' seven seconds you expect to 
talk. Get ten times as much matenal as >ou can use. You will 
then have an inner urge, a conviction - and your talk will 
almost make itself. 

‘Shall I memorise my talk?’ No> Never* If you do, >ou arc likch 
to forget, and the pangs of inflammatory rheumatism seem mild 
in comparison with the agonies endured by the speaker who 
suddenly forgets his ‘canned’ speech. But even if you do remember 
your talk, you wall be thinking of words, not ideas Conse- 
quently, you w'lll have a far-away look in your ej es and a far- 
away sound in jour voice The whole performance wall lack life, 
colour, mtimacy. No one wall pay much attention to it. 

But if you think out what you arc going to saj - think it out 
over and over again, make a few notes and then trust to .-Mlah 
to give you the words jou need -v our performance wall be 
human and natural. True, your talk may be crude in spots. 



ig8 reader’s digest omnibus 

your phraseology may be awkward, you are almost certain to 
leave out some of the things you intended to say; but what you 
do say will get over far better than a memorised oration. 

‘What gestures shall I make^’ As far as the audience is con- 
cerned, it won’t be necessary to make any gestures. But gestures 
will helpjoK to Jet yourself go. I use lots of gestures while speak- 
ing, especially when I am talking on the radio. I need them to 
help me warm up before the imresponsive mike. In the same 
way, you can force yourself to speak with enthusiasm before an 
audience by merely forcing yourself to make any sort of emphatic 
gestures. But don’t plan them in advance. Don’t let any elocu- 
tionist drill you to gesture with graceful curves in front of a 
mirror. Remember you are trying to instruct, entertain or move 
an audience to action. A speech is a psychological process, not a 
physical exhibition of grace, and you should no more be think- 
ing of gestures than of words. You ought to be thinking only 
of your ideas, your message and your audience. 

‘Shall I put my hands in my pockets'^' Theodore Roosevelt did, 
and so did Wilham Jenmngs Bryan. Of course, the best place 
for your hands is at your sides. They look well there, and 
they are in position to gesture easily when the urge comes. 
But if your hands feel hke a bunch of bananas hanging at 
your sides, your mind won’t be free and easy. And the con- 
dition of your mind is far more important than the position 
of your hands. So put your hands in your pockets if that 
gives you more ease. You are trying to make something 
happen in the other man’s head and heart. If you can do that. 
It doesn’t matter what you do with your hands. 

‘How shall I deliver my talk? Speak sincerely, from the heart. 
You may make blunders, but you can hardly fail to make an 
impression. The most difficult problem I face in traimng men is 
to blast them out of their sheik and inspire them to speak with 
genuine earnestness. That is probably the most important rule 
in dehvery. Your audience must feel that you know what you 
are talking about, that you mean it and have an intense desire 
to tell about it. 

‘How can I tell whether I am being heard}' WTien Abraham 
Lincoln made, at Cooper Union in New York, the famous 
speech that he afterwards said made him President, he posted 
a fnend in the back row ivith instructions to signal with his 



POP S BOY 


199 

cane if Lincoln couldn’t be heard. Not a bad idea for vou. 
Remember, vour \oice can’t carrv unless ^ou ha\e plcntv of 
air in your lungs So breathe deeply. Don’t talk to the people 
in the front row. Talk to the people in the back row. Think 
your voice into the rear of the room Speak wth cncrg\. 
Open your mouth. You don’t have to shout. E\en a \shispcr, 
when made correcdv, tviU cany to the back of a large 
theatre. 

'Shall I telljuni}} stories^' No' By the beard of the prophet. No! 
In the whole realm of speechmaking, humour is the most diffi- 
cult thing to achieve- If \ou aren't a natural humorist - if -j ou 
tiy to be funny -you may easily fail. And if you fail, ^ou wall 
only afflict your audience with pity and embarrassment. 

'How long shall 1 talk?’ George Horace Lonmer once told me 
that he alw'ays stopped a senes of articles in The Saturday Evertng 
Post w’hen they were at the peak of their populant^ . That is a 
good time to stop a talk, too- Stop when people arc eager to 
have you go on. Stop before they want ) ou to. Lincoln made 
the most famous speech in the world at CJcm-sburg, and he did 
it with ten sentences and spoke less than fi\c minutes Unless 
you are veiy much better ffian you think you arc, and unless 
your subject is extremely important, you had better not take 
more than twice as much time as Lmcoln took 

s. 

POP’S BOY 

Cordensed from Fight Stones 
IRVIN ASHKENAZY 

In the small hours of a dark September morning I dropped off 
the truck that had brought me as far as the north Florida tow n 
of Lake City. Going into an all-night limch-room, I let my 
suitcase drop and ordered a sandivich. 

The only other patron was a gaunt, elderly man eating a 
bowl of soup. An unkempt fringe of grejing hair grew down his 
neck beneath the floppy brim of his ancient Panama. He stared 

r***? tsleJ tH *Tht KesStr s 1 ** 1^9 



200 


reader’s digest omnibus 


at me a moment and a smile flickered as he noted the University 
of Florida labels on my suitcase 

‘Don’t I see ya in St Augustine one night last spring?’ he 
asked. ‘You win the state amachoor heavyweight title.’ 

I nodded, a little surpnsed. 

The old man paused, then added thoughtfully, ‘ Ya don’t 
have them scars over ya eyes then.’ I’d turned pro, I told him. 

‘Ya quit school?’ 

‘No, I turned pro in order to stay in school.’ 

After a while the old man swung off his stool. ‘If you’re goin’ 
to the University,’ he suggested, ‘I can take ya I’m goin’ through 
Gainesville.’ 

As his old car rattled down Highway 41, Pop strung anec- 
dotes about the pugilistic giants of yester-year. He’d trained 
and managed fighters since 1910. He was now retired ‘in a way’, 
but at the moment was helping a promoter by looking for a 
heavyweight to fight Kayo Billy Terry in a ten-round main 
bout at Tampa the next evening. Terry’s scheduled opponent 
had broken his hand in training the day before. 

After a silence Pop said, ‘That moniker of yours — ^what is it, 
Polack?’ 

No, I told him, it was Hebrew. Right out of Genesis. 

For a long while he stared ahead into the darkness, stonily 
silent. Always it was the same, I thought. Tell ’em you’re a Jew, 
then wait . . . wait while doors close silently. 

‘I useta wonder,’ Pop soliloquized, ‘what I’d a done if I’d a 
been bom a Jew.’ 

I’d never encountered this reaction before. My heart suddenly 
warmed. Why, I told him, he’d have been exactly the same. 

He shook his head. ‘Naaa I’da had to fight harder to get 
along. I’da had to have an edjucation. Like you. I’da amounted 
to sump’n, maybe.’ 

By now the darkness was becoming diluted with dawn. I told 
Pop, a little uncomfortably, that I wasn’t actually stopping at 
Gainesville. I would hitch a ride from there to h-Iiami ‘I thought 
you was goin’ bark to school,’ he said. 

I was, but first I had to collect some money from a man 
named Wilhe. He was pay-off man for a manager who had 
taken me with his stable of fighters on a barnstorming tour. At 
the close of the tour Wilhe had disappeared. I had about 



pop’s boy 


201 


$500 coming to me Miami was Willie’s home territon, and if 
he wasn’t there I’d ivait for him, picking up fights to keep 
myself going. 

‘Forget It,’ Pop said gruffly. ‘Charge it off to cdjucation.’ 

If I didn’t get that money, I said, I wouldn’t get any educa- 
tion I needed $300 to pay off my debts from the prc\*ious year 
so I could get started this year. 

Another silence. Then, ‘\Vho’d ya fight this summer?’ 

I mumbled a few names 

‘Ya didn’t fight them? Them’s all tough, main-go bo^'sl’ 

I explained how the barnstorming manager had matched 
me m ten-round main bouts from the start, endowing me witli 
a mythical record m selling my prowess to promoters. 

‘The louse'’ Pop muttered. ‘Throwin’ m a green amachoor 
ivit’ gu>'s like those' You stay the limit wit’ any a them monkei s'” 

I drew a dog-eared sheaf of newspaper clippings from my 
w'allet. Pop nearly wrecked the car tiying to drive and read at 
the same time ‘I’ll be damned,’ he muttered to the windshield. 
‘Ya ivm ’em all'* After a few moments he turned to me *Stav 
over in Tampa and I’ll put ya m against Tcrr>' tonight' You’ll 
get your 300 fish'’ 

♦ * * 

Pop’s landlady, a little white-haired woman, glanced at Pop 
with an odd, anxious sadness ‘Is he the one to fight Bill) she 
asked. 

‘He’s my boy,’ Pop said brusqudy. She gave me something 
to eat, tlicn I went to Pop’s room and hit the hay. 

IVhcn I w’oke up, the bedroom windows were filled with 
night. A stocky, bagg>-eyed little man was bent o\cr me, his 
fingers plucking expertly at the muscles in my legs. ‘This is 
J. D., my trainer,’ Pop explained J D., it turned out, also dro\ c 
a cab 

^Vhlle I was dressing I told Pop that the last I’d heard of 
Terr)* was a couple of rears before. He’d been pretty good I 
wondered what he'd done since. 

‘He’s disgraced the name he’s fightin’ under,’ Pop said 
bitterly. ‘Tonight he’s min’ to make a comeback. .\11 that 
means is he’s gonna try to win because nobod) 's paiin' him to 
la) down'' INlien I asked if he could still fight if he wanted to. 



202 


reader’s digest omnibus 


Pop nodded slowly. ‘He might have been heavy%veight champ, 
if he’d listened to me — I must have shown my surprise. ‘I 
useta manage him,’ Pop said gruffly. 

♦ * » 

A mounting roar swept through the walls of the dressing room. 
‘The semi-final’s over,’ J. D. commented. Pop threw an arm 
across my shoulders and said, ‘This boy you’re fightin’ is good. 
He can hit and he can box. But he does his trainin’ in dance 
halls and gin-mills. Hold him for six rounds and he’s through' 
But until then - watch it' He’s tncky and he’s dirty.’ 

As I moved out at the clang of the bell, Terry charged across 
the ring m a concentrated assault, designed to crash through a 
mediocre defence by power and surpnse. I stepped back, half- 
crouching, and caught everything on arms, gloves and shoulder. 
I let him come, moving in a circle When he closed in I tangled 
his arms without clinching, allowing him further to spend his 
strength in savage attempts to maul me inside. 

After that imtial flurry Terry knew that I was no amateur 
Awareness of that fact must have awakened a sickening despera- 
tion in him. He needed a win so badly. 

Suddenly a blinding constellation of agony burst in my 
brain. He’d thrust his thumb in my eye. I hunched against the 
ropes, unable to see, while Terry’s brain-ratthng blows jolted 
against the back of my head and smashed down on my kidneys 
I managed to fall mto a clinch. Another galaxy of stars exploded 
as Terry pulled out with a vicious butt of his head to my brow 
Then the bell clanged. 

Pop vigorously protested the foul to the referee, but the 
referee only shrugged. Apparently he hadn’t seen it. 

During the second round, with Terry husbanding his narrow 
margin of endurance and me waiting for it to trickle away, the 
fight became static. The crowd began to stamp in metronomic 
disapproval. Suddenly Terry rushed me, thro\ving a barrage of 
leather. I back-pedalled, but he closed in, seizing my arms at 
the elbows. Locked face to face, he snarled, ‘Fight' Ya yeller 
Jew'’ And he spat full m my face. 

For a jagged splinter of time I could only stare. Hatred had 
never found a place in my emotional pattern of battle. Fear, 
perhaps But never person^ hatred. I flung him from me, clean 



pop’s boy 203 

across the ring he went, into the ropes - and bounded off them 
as I came charging in 

Next thing I knew, I lay upon a cloud, floating in space. I 
heard a distant voice say, *SixI’ At the sound of it, tlic cloud 
suddenly perufied into hard canvas. ‘Sc\enr At ‘Eight*’ I 
managed to scramble to one knee, and at ‘Ninel’ I was on m\ 
feet. I spat the fragments of a shattered tooth and felt the sharp, 
quivering pain of a naked nerve. 

Terry moved in swiftly, striving for the finishing blow. I 
smothered his attack, turning so that his back was finally on tlic 
ropes. Letting my full 220 pounds sag against him, I dragged 
turn savagely along the strands, knowing thej'- were burning 
broad, crimson welts across his back. In close, I stamped on his 
feet, w'liile the referee strove to break us. The punches I was 
pumping into Terry had little shock power, but I was striking 
wdth the heels of the hand instead of the knuckles, and the 
glove laces left raw places with eveiy' blow. W’hen the referee 
managed to crash between us I struck on the break, deliberately 
missing, but following through so that my elbow smashed, 
apparently accidentally, into Terry’s face. He staggered, and 
as I charged in again jerked up his knee m such an obnous foul 
that the crowd broke into a howl But I half-turned, catching 
his kneecap on my thigh, my left following through in a hook 
that cracked against Terr)'’sjaw He plunged to the floor. 

I chmbed through the ropes, hardly w aiting to hear the end 
of the count. It gave me a moment’s pause, however, to see Pop 
move suddenly into the rmg, lift Teny’ in his arms and drag him 
to his comer. 

Pop and I w'cnt to a little restaurant aftcn%ards. He looked 
very tired as he gave me a roll of notes. I counted $300, then 
peded off S75 and handed it to him. ‘What s that for?' he 
asked I told him it w'as his 25 per cent, the regular agent's cut. 
He pushed the money towards me. ‘You don’t owe me nothin’, 
son.’ 

Presently I said: ‘I’m sony' I had to fight dirt\ . You saw what 
he did ’ Pop nodded He wasn’t looking at me 
‘You figure on graduatin’’” 

I told liim I guessed so. surprised at the question 
‘You graduate Make sump’n of youndf’ 

J D. humed up and said to Pop, ‘IVe’U just about make the 


204 ' reader’s digest omnibus 

Gainesville bus Ain’t ya cornin’ to the station with us?’ Pop 
just sat there. ‘Tell ya the truth,’ he sighed, ‘I’m kinda beat up,’ 
I grasped his hand. ‘So long, Pop - and thanks a milhon.’ 

At the bus station J. D. shook my hand. ‘Pop’ll git busy and 
line up another bundle of easy cabbage for ya pretty soon ’ I 
told him that tonight’s ‘cabbage’ may not have been easy, but 
it was certainly the fastest three hundred I’d ever made. J. D.’s 
baggy eyes for a moment were baffled. Then a sad smile glim- 
mered. ‘Ya don’t have to put on no dog with me, boy. I seen the 
promoter give Pop the 130 bucks for your 20 per cent of the 
gate.’ 

Before I could go into the subject further, the bus burst into 
a roar. J. D. shoved me aboard. 

Next day I wrote Pop, asking him about the $170 he must 
have produced for me from his own pocket. I couldn’t remember 
the address of his boardmg -house, so I sent it care of the arena 
I wrote him twice more, but all my letters were returned 
marked, ‘Not here’. 

Two months later I received a wire from J. D. offering me a 
Tampa main-go. He met me at the bus station and burned me 
into ffls cab. ‘How’s Pop?’ I asked. 

J. D, paused in mid-motion. ‘Didn’t ya know? Pop’s dead ’ 

I felt as though someone had kicked me in the stomach. 

I asked him when it happened and he said, ‘The next 
mormng, after ya went back to Gainesville. His landlady found 
him m bed, dead.’ He tapped his chest. ‘Just gave out, I 
reckon.’ 

It was a moment or t^vo before I could speak again. ‘Did Pop 
have any family?’ 

‘Just fflat one kid,’ J. D. said. 

‘What kid?’ 

J. D. looked at me sharply. And, as he absorbed my bewilder- 
ment, a curious expression came over his doleful face. 

‘Didn’t ya know? Billy Terry was Pop’s son.’ 




Amenca’s best buy for a nickel is a telephone call to the 
right man. Ilka Chase. 




til* 













CONFESSIONS OF AN ACTOR 

Condensed from Ladies' HoT,e jcurral 


JOHN' BARRYMORE 

After the opera on a night in April igoS, m San Francisco I 
went to a supper part)’, and beti\ccn three and four ^^alkcd 
home ivith a friend to his house. I had been in bed onh a feu 
minutes uhen the earthquake - the first and great shock - 
occurred. It all but threu me out of bed. I put on m) c\ cning 
clothes again and mv friend and I walked tou-ards tou n E\ cr\ - 
uhere uhole sides of houses uerc gone The effect was as if 
someone had lined the streets uith gigantic, open-front dolls’ 
houses. People ucre hurnedly dressing. More prudent per-on'. 
uho couldn’t too quickly forget their decorum, vcrc putting 
up sheets to shield themseUcs from the passcrs-b> I uas going 
into the St Francis Hotel uhen I heard Wilhc Collier call 
to me, ‘Go "West, young man, and bloiv up uith the countn..’ 
He was wearing bedroom slippers and a floucred drc'^^ing- 
gown. 

Union Square, into hich so manv oddK dressed persons and 
their belongings had been hastih throiim prcicntcd a ctr.-' nge, 
uncanny appearance. -A. charmingh unperturbed ladv, lightb 
clad, was sittmg on one of her trunks uiih an c.\citable Frcrrh 
maid ho\enng about. It uas cold that moniing. between fi.c 
and six ‘.Aren’t \ou co’d’’ I a^ked he'. ‘Can’t I get \oa <~rnc- 
thing?’ I w alkcd up to the Bohenuan Qub, and proceeded back 

Ftfsi pui tshi'd »•» Tki x Z? * ^ l'C5 



2o6 


reader’s digest omnibus 


to Union Square, carrying a glass of brandy in my hand. I 
learned afterwards that the lady was Madame Alda, of the 
Metropolitan Opera Co. . 

I saw Caruso ^vlth his trunks on a van; and in front of the 
Palace Hotel I found Diamond Jim Brady. He was amused to 
see me in evening dress, ,and when he went back East he and 
many others circulated this story about my dressing for an 
earthquake ; in fact, a great deal of my reputation for eccentricity 
had, I think, its origin in this incident. It had not occurred to 
me that I was oddly dressed for the occasion. I don’t know, 
though, what one should wear at an earthquake. 

As I was getting sleepy I went back to the St Francis and 
went to the desk to get my key. I asked the clerk if it was safe to 
go up to my room. ‘Perfectly,’ he said, with the trained assurance 
of a Californian. ‘There isn’t the slightest chance in the world 
of it happening again.’ 

Just then the second version, a little before eight o’clock, 
shook the whole place angrily. I slept till late afternoon, when 
I was awakened by the general excitement in front of the hotel 
and the smell of things burning in the distance. My trunks had 
been made ready for Australia the day before, and had gone. I 
never recovered them. 

I walked up to the house of some friends and with them I 
drove to Burlingame. Here we stayed for six days. I hoped-that 
by that time the company was well on its way to Australia. I 
never had any desire to go on that trip, anyway. It occurred to 
me that I ought to get word to my family and to the Frohman 
office, by whom I was employed. I got a bicycle and started for 
San Francisco. I had been quite familiar wth the town, but all 
the landmarks were gone, and riding through those streets 
which were nothing but rums, it was with the greatest difficulty 
that I found the Oakland ferry. A friend had given me his police 
badge, with which he assured me I would have no trouble in 
getting to Oakland, but some soldiers, seeing the badge, stopped 
me and put me to work bossing a gang of men who were piling 
up debris I knew so httle about work myself that it was difficult 
for me to become a good executive. After about eight hours I 
was allowed to proceed to Oakland. 

As I got off the boat I met Ashton Stevens, the dramatic 
critic. He said, ‘You’re in time to get your boat after all. The 



CONFESSIONS OF AN ACTOR 


CO7 

company is going to sail from Vancouver in three da\-s ’ There 
was notWng for it but to go to Austraha. 

In Vancouver I found that I had $10 and no clotlics. except 
the ones I had on, and these were far from presentable For ?5 
I bought a blue-serge suit which did not take kindlv to the damp 
air, and when we had been at sea a feu dais it shrunk so tlial I 
ivas the butt of the other members of the company whenei er I 
appeared. 

I wrote a long letter to my sister. I wanted to make it a good 
one, worth at least $100, so I desenbed in great detail i\hat I 
had seen and what I had been through. 1 confessed to ha\ mg 
seen people shot in the street, spiked on bayonets and horrors so 
great that the imagination was almost blunt from contemplating 
them. I wTote that I had been thrown out of bed b\ the earth- 
quake and miraculously escaped injurj' from falling brick* and 
plaster, and then, wth much pathos, I described the scene at 
the ferry where, iveak from exhaustion and pniation, I Iiad 
been cruelly put to work sorting stones by the soldier* 

Ethel was reading this letter s>TnpathcticalJy to our uncle, 
John Drew, and during one of the best bits he was so strangels 
quiet that she stopped and asked* ‘WHiat’s the matter. Uncle 
Jack^ Don’t you beheve it^’ 

T believ’e every word of it,’ he answ'crcd. Tt took a connihion 
of Nature to make him get up and the United States Arm> to 
make him go to w’ork.’ 

I w*as broke once in Atlantic City. A certain set of cuffbutlons 
which I rather liked had already gone and mi hotel bill was 
getting worse and more unpa^-ablc. It was like a situation m 
London once, years ago I had a cab, and no monci to pa\ for 
it. Everywhere I droic I was turned dowm and. e\cr\ time I 
approached a new* prospect I had to ask for more money, as the 
cab bill was mounting. When I finally found a complacent 
person to lend me some money, the cab bill wns four pound* At 
Atlantic City that night I was dining alone when Mon Sinqcr, 
the theatrical manager, came up and began talkinq to me He 
told me that he was putting on a new piece called A Stull cm 
Cinderella ‘AVould you like a part in it’’ he a<rkcd 

‘Oh, I don’t know; Fve got something in mind that Fm 
considenng,’ I replied. All I was considering at the moment 
was who was going to pay for my shnmp bisque. 



2o8 


reader’s digest omnibus 


‘How would $150 a week do^’ asked Singer. 

Up to this time my salary had not been over S50 a week, and 
I was so staggered I couldn’t answer. Singer, thinking that I was 
hesitating because he had not offered enough, said. ‘Well, make 
it S175. If you want some now, here is Si 00.’ 

By that time I had found my voice, and I accepted the offer. 

My first real hit in the theatre was in The Fortune Hunter. One’s 
first success' How did it happen^ But while I was pondering 
over this brand-new state of things for me - being a hit in a 
theatre - there came to me a somewhat saddemng thought. 
From now on I had a career, it seemed, which I could ho longer 
kick in the pants. It was goodbye to the irresponsibihties of 
youth. I had happened to be fairly good at them. 

WHO IS THIS MYSTERIOUS 
MURDERER? 

Condensed from Plain Talk 
JOSEPH BORNSTEIN 

Behind the walls of a Mexican penitentiary lives a mysterious 
prisoner. The judges who, in 1943, found him guilty of murder 
were convinced that everything he said about his identity was 
untrue. Newspapers and magazines the world over earned his 
picture and reports of his deed, but not a single witness came 
forward to testify to having kno^vn him. For nine years he has 
hidden his identity - and the instigators of his crime. 

The unknown prisoner calls himself Jacques Momard 
Vandendreschd, and claims to be a Belgian born in Persia in 
1904. He is the murderer of the man whom Joseph Stahn hated 
most - Leon Trotsky. 

Nothing is known of Vandendreschd before 1938, when Sylvia 
Ageloff, a R 7-year-old chmeal psychologist employed by the 
New York City Board of Education, left her job and went to 
Pans. Shortly after her arrival she met a handsome young man 
who called himself Jacques Mornard and said he was studying 

First published in ‘The Reader’s Digest" in 19*9 



WHO IS THIS MYSTERIOUS MURDERER? aog 

journalism at the Sorbonne. He took her to museums and 
theatres, restaurants and mght clubs He had plentj of money, 
and told SvKna that he came of a distinguished Belgian famil) . 

A )ear before Momard Vandendreschd and S}l\-ia met. one 
of her sisters had gone to !Mexico to become a secretaiy* to Leon 
Trotsky. S) Ina herself had friends in the Trotskjist group m the 
United States. But it net er occurred to her that Momard might 
have a hidden reason for cultivating her finendship. He did not 
seem mterested in politics and never mentioned Trotsky 

One day Momard told Sylviahew anted to help her financially. 
He said that the ‘Argus Publishing Company’ had agreed to pay 
her 3,000 francs a month to u-rite articles on ps>chologt . S\I\aa 
was dehghted and turned over to Momard an article c\cr\' 
t\eek. None of the articles, houeter, uas e\er seen m pnnt 

In the early days of their fhendship, Momard had disap- 
peared for se\eral ueeks. On 26 July 1938 he UTOte S\Ina 
from Bmssels tliat his mother had been senously injured m an 
automobile accident. His father, he said, was unhurt. Two years 
later, ha^■ing apparently forgotten this letter, Momard told the 
Mexican pohee that his father had died in 1926, 12 >ears before 
the alleged accident. 

WTien S)l\'ia made a surpnse \'isit to Bmssels to sec him, 
Momard was not at the address he had gi\en her. Shortlv 
afterwards he reappeared in Pans and S)hTa accepted without 
question his explanation that she had missed him in Bmssels 
because he had been suddeni) called to Englamd. 

In Febmary 1939, Momard announced that a Belgian news- 
paper had appointed him its American correspondent. SyKia 
was to return to New' York; he w'ould follow' soon. 

In New York, S) Iwa w aited m vain. Cables informed her that 
Momard was ha\mg trouble getting his American \Tsa. She there- 
upon w'ent to work for the Department of ^Velfare in Brooklm. 

Momard finally arri\ ed in New' York m September. He noi\ 
called himself ‘Frank Jacson’, explained that as a Belgian 
citizen he was subject to militaiy seivicc and could not get 
permission to come to America. He had therefore paid S3.500 
for a false Canadian passport. Furthermore, he had changed his 
profession* he was to be assistant to a European broker of raw 
matenals in Mexico S) Ma was disappointed, but not suspicious 
of her friend’s stoiy*. 



210 


reader’s digest omnibus 


In October ‘Frank Jacson’ went to Mexico City. Soon he 
wrote that he was lonely. He urged Sylvia to come to Mexico. 

At that time Leon Trotsky, who lived in Coypacan, near 
Mexico City, was frequently in the news. Communist leaders 
were demanding his expulsion from Mexico, calling him ‘an 
ally of American imperialism’ and ‘a criminal conspirator agamst 
the workers of Russia and Mexico.’ 

Defeated by Stalin in the fight to become successor to Lemn, 
Trotsky had been driven successively from Russia, Turkey, 
France and Norway. From Mexico, Trotsky continued "to 
denounce Stalin and his policies. 

In January 1940, Sylvia took a three months’ leave of absence 
and flew to Mexico. Her sister, secretary to Trotsky, and various 
persons whom Sylvia had known in New York were there also. ' 
Sylvia introduced Frank Jacson to many of these people. 

In March, Sylvia had to return to her job in Brooklyn. Jacson 
remained on close terms with his new acquaintances, particu- 
larly with the Rosmers, a French couple who were guests of the 
Trotskys. When Jacson learned that the Rosmers were to sail 
from Vera Cruz to France at the end of May, and that Mrs 
Trotsky wanted to see them off, Jacson ofiered to drive them all 
to Vera Cruz. They accepted. 

The trip was scheduled foi 28 May. Between three and four 
o’clock on the morning of the 24th, some 30 men in Mexican 
police uniforms, led by a man dressed as a Mexican army colonel, 
disarmed and tied up the police guards around Trotsky’s house. 
Robert Sheldon Harte, one of Trotsky’s private bodyguards, 
was forced mto one of the invaders’ cars. 

Posting a machine gun in the courtyard, the invaders sprayed 
the doors and windows of the building with a steady stream of 
bullets. The Trotskys rolled out of bed and lay flat on the floor. 
They heard someone enter the darkened bedroom, fire a few 
shots and leave, apparently convinced that there was no survivor. 
Then cars were heard driving quickly away. 

The mystery of the attack was never solved. Trotsky and his 
Avife had miraculously escaped mjury. A few weeks afterwards, 
the body of Robert Sheldon Harte, covered with hme, was 
found m a pit. 

Four days after the assault, Jacson drove up to Trotsky’s 
house to pick up the Rosmere and Mrs Trotsky for the trip 


WHO IS THIS MYSTERIOUS MURDERER? 211 

to Vera Cruz. They were still at breakfast, and Jacson was 
inwted to have a cup of coffee. For the first tunc Frank Jacson 
stood face to face wth Leon Trotsky. 

From this day on, Jacson was always \velcome at Trotsky’s 
home. 

Trotsky’s house was now transformed into a fortress. Double 
steel doors, electncaily controlled, replaced the wood entrance 
Massive steel shutters were installed at the doors and uondows 
of Trotsk/s hwng quarters. Bombproof ceilmgs and floors were >. 
built, barbed-wre entanglements were set up: observation 
towers dominated the surrounding neighbourhood. 

But Jacson was free to come and go as he chose. To the guards 
and secretaries he was someone ‘the old man’ knew and 
trusted. 

l\Tien Sylvia amved m Mexico for her summer vacation in 
August she found Jacson looking like a sick man, and obwously 
under a psychological strain. On lo August they were imnted 
for tea at the Trotskys At this tea Jacson for the first time took 
part m a pohtical dispute -an argument concernmg ivhat 
propaganda pohcy Trotsky should pursue. He agreed fully ivith 
Trotsky’s point of view and volunteered to wnte an article 
defending it. Sylvia, however, sided against Jacson and 
Trotsky. 

A week later Jacson brought Trotsky an outline of the 
article - ‘a few phrases, muddled stuff,’ Trotsky afterwards told 
his ivife. But he promised to read the fimshed manuscript on the 
following Thursday. 

That day, 20 August, at 5 30 p m , three of Trotsky’s friends - 
Joseph Hansen, Charles Cornell and Melquiades Bemtez - were 
at work on the roof of Trotsky’s house, connecting a siren ivith 
the alarm system to be used in case of a new attack, when 
Jacson was admitted. The guard on duty, Harold Robins, took 
him to Trotsky, who was feeding the chickens and rabbits in 
the backyard Jacson told Trotsky that Sylvia ivas coming any 
minute to say goodbye; the two of them ^\cre leaving for New 
York the next day Then, seeing Mrs Trotsky on the balcony of 
the house, he said, ‘I am frightfully thirsty May I ha\e a glass 
of water?’ Mrs. Trotsky noticed the grey-green colour of his face 
and his nervousness, and that, contrar}’- to his habit, he wore a 
hat and carried a ramcoat over his left arm. 



212 reader’s digest OMNIBUS 

WTien Jacson, followed by Mrs Trotsky, returned to the 
rabbit cages, Trotsky said, ‘Well, shall we go over your article'" 
He led Jacson into the study and closed the door 

Three or four minutes later Mrs Trotsky, who was in the 
kitchen, and Robins and the three men working on the roof 
heard ‘a terrible, soul-shaking cry - prolonged and agonised, 
half scream, half sob’. Before any of them could reach the study, 
Leon Trotsky, his face covered with blood, stumbled through 
the door to the dining room and slumped to the floor. 

Inside the study Jacson stood gasping, a revolver in his hand 
Robms sprang at him and knocked him to the floor. Seemingly 
half conscious, Jacson whined: ‘They made me do it. They 
made me do it They have imprisoned my mother.’ A few 
seconds later he came to himself and struggled to escape. Hansen 
helped Robins overcome the murderer. Jacson regained his self- 
control and refused to talk. He said only: ‘Sylvia had nothing 
to do with it. No, it was not the GPU. I have nothing to do with 
the GPU.’ 

Detectives who amved a few imnutes later found the room 
spattered "with blood; chairs and desks were overturned, books 
and papers scattered over the floor. Near the desk was the 
murder instrument: a heavy wooden handle wth a sharp steel 
pick at one end. 

Jacson told the detectives that Trotsky had seated himself at 
his desk, with Jacson standing at his left just behind,the chair. 
^\Tien Trotsky began readmg, Jacson took the weapon from 
under his raincoat. ‘I raised it up high,’ he told the police. ‘I 
shut my eyes and struck ivith all my strength.’ Trotsky, uttermg 
a terrible cry, got up and struggled wdth his attacker, showing 
remarkable strength for a man of 62. But the pick had pene- 
trated almost three inches into his brain. Twenty-six hours later 
Trotsky was dead. 

The murderer had been well prepared, besides the pick and 
a revolver, a nine-inch dagger was found sewn into a pocket of 
Jacson’s suit. There were no identifying papers; Jacson declared 
that he had burned his Canadian passport. His wallet contained 
$890 in American money. The detectives also found a type- 
written letter in French. The signature ‘Jac’ and the date 
20 August 1940, the day of the murder, had been added in 
pencil. In this letter the killer — or someone behind him - gave 



WHO IS THIS MYSTERIOUS MURDERER? 213 

an explanation for his ‘act of justice’ and asked its pubhcation 
‘in case anything unfortunate happens to me.’ 

Beginnmg ivith the statement ‘I am of an old Belgian family’, 
the writer introduces himself as a journalist u ho had joined the 
Trotskyist organisation in Paris. One day an unnamed member 
of the Bureau of Trotsky’s ‘Fourth Intemational’ suggested that 
he go to Mexico and meet Trotskj', and supplied money and 
false identification papers After he arrived m Mexico, a disillu- 
sionment occurred: he found the great Trotsky actually a 
contemptible character, a man who, as the Stalinists smd, ‘had 
no other object than to utihse his followers to satisfy his personal 
ends’. ‘Jac’ was completely cured of his illusions when - the 
letter said - Trotsky proposed that he go to Russia to organise 
attempts against the hves of several persons, beginnmg i\-ith 
Stahn 

*Jac’ added that he ivas engaged ‘to a certam young girl 
whom I love with all my soul’, but that Trotsky demanded that 
he break oflT wth this girl because she sided inth the minonty 
m his group The letter ended. ‘It is probable that after my act 
she may not tvish to know me any more; nevertheless, it was 
also for her sake that I decided to sacrifice m>-self ’ 

On one pomt the ^vriter of his confession was nght: Syhia 
Ageloff ^vished she had never knomi the man who killed Leon 
Trotsky. IMien confironted irith Jacson immediately after tlie 
murder she shouted: ‘You dirt)' murderer' You dirty GPU 
agent! I hope I never see you agam'’ ^Vith tears runmng dow'n 
her face, she accused* him of having cultivated her m order to 
murder Leon Trotsky. 

The organisers of Trotsk)'’s assassination apparently expected 
that the murderer would either escape or be lulled. They i\erc 
not prepared for a third possibihty, brought about by Trotsky 
himself. Although close to losing consciousness, Trotsky had 
pointed towards the adjoining room where his guards iiere 
beating the murderer and said, ‘Don’t let him be killed - he 
must be forced to talk ’ 

In his first oral confession, Jacson gave a version different in 
many important details from the written one. Nor could he 
explam the contradictions, and the investigators realised that 
probably he had not e\'en been the author of the first confession 
Cross-examined concerning his identity, the murderer repeated 

H 



reader’s digest omnibus 


214 

what he had told Sylvia. But an official of the Belgian legation 
in Mexico, after a long conversation wth Jacson, declared that 
he did not beheve he was a Belgian. Most of Jacson’s statements 
pertaining to his life in Belgium were incorrect, the official said, 
and his French accent was that of a man who had learned the 
language in S\vitzerland. 

Almost every step in the investigation added to the evidence 
that not only was Jacson (or Momard or Vandendreschd) 
lying about his identity, but that the entire confession was 
contrived. 

Questioned about the Canadian passport, Momard could 
not remember any detail except the name ‘Frank Jacson’. He 
pretended he had never examined the document closely and did 
not know when and where ‘Frank Jacson’ was supposed to have 
been bom. 

But in the files of the American consulate in Mexico City was 
the application of a Frank Jacson for a transit visa to Montreal, 
giving his passport number, its date of issuance and the place 
and date of birth: Lovmac, Yugoslavia, on 13 June 1905. 
Canadian authorities found that under the number shown on 
Jacson’s visa application an authentic Canadian passport had 
been issued to Tony Babich, a Bntish subject naturalised in 
Canada, bom in Lovmac, Yugoslavia, on 13 June 1905. Further 
investigation revealed that Babich had gone to Spain, volun- 
teered in the Loyalist army then fighting the ci\ffi war, and 
had died as a member of the International Brigade. Spanish 
authorities had certified his death. 

What probably happened then can be guessed from informa- 
tion revealed by General Walter Krivitsky, former chief of the 
Soviet military mtelhgence in Western Europe, who turned 
away from Stalin and escaped to the United States (and who 
later was foimd in a Washington hotel room, killed by revolver 
bullets). In his book. In Stalinas Secret Service, Krivitsky reported 
that during the Spanish Civil War all members of the Inter- 
national Brigade were ordered to turn over their passports to 
their superiors. The passports of those who died were sent to 
Moscow, where skilled techmcians made them over for the use 
of secret agents to be sent abroad. 

During his trial Momard’s prison cell was equipped with a 
gramophone and records and books; his meals came from an 


‘the light ih the %S'IN*DOw’ 215 

expensive restaurant. These things iiere paid for through his 
laiiyers firom funds whose source remained their professional 
secret. 

The trial dragged on for months, and was still going on uhcn 
Ehtler invaded Russia, thus maMng Stahn for some years the 
ally of the democracies. Finally, on 16 April 1943, the Mexican 
Sixth Penal Court sentenced Jacques Momard to 20 years’ 
imprisonment for premeditated murder. In their Nmtten deci- 
sion the judges dedared: ‘Momard’s attitude, from the time he 
undertook Ids trip to Mexico until he succeeded in estabhshing 
contact wth Trotsky and afterwards, is one of falseness and 
artifice. The Court must dedare that the trip of Frank Jacson 
or Jacques Momard to klexico was undert^en with the sole 
object of killing Trotsky.’ 

How'ever, those who had sent him on his mission to Mexico 
have never to this day been betrayed by the man who now calls 
himself Jacques Momard Vandendreschd. 




‘THE LIGHT IN THE WINDOW’ 

LOIS MATTOX MILLER. 

I MET him first on a summer day in 1936 . 1 had rushed into his 
dingy htde shop to have my slippers re-heeled. He greeted me 
cheerily. *You’re new in this neighbourhood, aren’t you^’ 

Yes, I admitted, I had moved into the apartment house at 
the end of the block only a w’eek before 
‘This is a fine neighbourhood,’ he said. ‘You’ll be happy here. ’ 
I sat there in my stocking feet, w’atching as he removed the 
old leather and, ivith a sad tut-tut, exammed the leather cover- 
mg the heel -now’ worn through by a too long delay of this 
rep^ job I grew' a little impatient, for I w’as mshmg to an 
appointment. ‘Please huny',’ I begged. 

Helooked at me reproachfully o\ er his stcel-nmmcd spectacles. 
‘Now’, lady, w'e w’on’t be long. I w’ant to do a good job ’ He 
paused. ‘You see, I have a tradition to uphold.’ 

A tradition? In this drab httle shop without a thing to 

Tmt in ’TV Rodent in ISIS 



2i6 


reader’s digest omnibus 


distinguish it from so many other cobbler’s shops on the side 
streets of New York? 

He must have sensed my surprise, for he smiled as he went 
on. ‘Yes, lady, I inherited a tradition. My father and my grand- 
father were cobblers in Italy, and they were the best. My father 
always told me, “Son, do the best ]oh on every shoe that comes 
into the shop, and be proud of your fine work. Do that always, 
and you’ll be doubly blessed - both happy and prosperous ” ’ 

As he handed me the finished shoes, he said: ‘These iviU last 
a longer time. These are good leather.’ 

I left in a hurry, late for my appointment yet with a warm and 
grateful feeling. On my way home I passed the httle shop again. 
There he was, bending over his last. To my surprise he waved 
cheerily. Thus began a rewarding friendship. 

Those were disturbing years of depression and war. Daily as I 
passed his shop we exchanged a fidendly hand wave. At first 
I went in only when I had repair work to be done, then I found 
myself dropping in occasionally just for a chat. 

He was surpnsingly tall for an Italian, yet quite stooped from 
long years of toil. His hair was thin and grey, his face deeply 
lined. But I remember best his fine brown eyes, alive %vith 
kindness and humour. I remember how they flashed one day at 
the mention of Mussolmi. ‘The dog!’ he said. It was thestrongest 
word I ever heard him use. 

He was the happiest man I’ve ever known. Often, as he stood 
in his shop wndow, hammering away at his last, he sang 
lustily. The Itahans in our neighbourhood called him la luce alia 
Jinestra - the light in the window. 

Once, as we talked, he turned to wave cordially to a passer-by, 
then said to me: ‘There’s a man I’d hke to know. He’s been 
passing here for years. I \vish he’d stop in sometimes, for he has 
a fine, honest face.’ 

I did not tell him that I knew the man. But a week later he 
told me ‘I was right about that man. He stopped m yesterday 
and we had a fine talk. There’s a good man, if I ever saw one.’ 

I knew then that the honesty and goodness of this gentle 
cobbler had warmed another heart as it had mine - thawing a 
natural reserve to let kindness shme through. 

One day I came away from my apartment angry and dis- 
gusted because of a sloppy job the painters had done. My friend 


‘the light IX THE WIXDO^\ ’ 21 7 

waved to me as I m ent by, so I turned into lus shop for solace. 
He let me rant about the incompetence and inefficiency of 
present-day workmen. They had no pride in their ^\ork, I 
argued, they didn’t e^en A\ant to uork-just wshed to collect 
their high \\ ages and loaf. 

He agreed ‘There’s a lot of that land around, sure But 
maybe ffiey’re not entirely to blame Maybe their fathers had 
no pnde in their work. That’s tough on a kid. It depmes him 
of something important.’ 

‘IVhat can be done about it?’ I asked. 

He waited a minute before ans%%enng, then looked at me 
squarely. ‘There is only one \vay. Every man or uoman who 
hasn’t inhented a pndeful tradition must start building one 
No matter what sort of work a man docs, if he gives it his best 
each day. he’s starting a tradition for his children to live up to 
And he’s makmg lots of happiness for himself.’ 

I w'ent abroad for a few months Shortly after my return I 
Avalked down the street, looking forward eagerly to his surprise 
w'hen he saw' me 

There w'as no ‘hght in the w'indow'’. The door was closed. 
There was a little card ‘Call for shoes at laundiy' next door.’ 

I went into the laundiy', full of apprehension. Yes, the old 
man had suffered a stroke ti\o weeks ago. nght there in his 
window' He had died a few' days later 

‘\Ve sure miss him around here,’ the laundiyman said ‘He 
W'as so happy all the time ’ 

I went away with a heav)* heart I would miss him, too. But 
he had left me something - a rare bit of wisdom I shall always 
remember. ‘If you have inhented a prideful tradition, you must 
carr)' it on; if \ou ha^en’t, then start bmlding one now.’ 

W 

SCOTCH AND WRY 

A tra\ elling salesman, held up in the Orkney Islands by a 
bad storm, telegraphed to his firm in Aberdeen : ‘Marooned 
by storm. Wire instructions.’ 

The reply came: ‘Start summer holiday as from 
yesterday.’ 




THE ENEMY’S MASTERPIECE OF 

ESPIONAGE 

/ 

J. EDGAR HOOVER 
Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation 

One morning early in January, 1940, a traveller stood at the 
rail of a ship as it entered New York Harbour. The pilot had 
just come aboard with the usual officials. No one else was near 
as one of the boarding party whispered to the man at the 
rail: 

‘You are to be S. T. Jenkins. As soon as we land, go to the 
Belvoir Hotel. Wait in your room!’ 

That evening after hours of waiting, Jenkins heard a key turn 
in a lock; the door to the next suite quietly opened and two 
special agents of the Federal Bmreau of Investigation marched 
in. Jenkins, who was on the FBI pay-roll, shook hands with the 
agents and plunged into a disturbing report: 

‘I have been a student at the Nazi Espionage School, Klop- 
stock Pension, Hamburg. My class was graduated two weeks 
ago. In a farewell speech, the principal. Dr Hugo Sebold, said: 

‘ “The greatest problem of dtr Fuhrefs agents in North and 
South America is keeping in touch with us. The Americans have 
given us a great deal of trouble. But before long we shall be 
commumcating back and forth throughout the world with 
impunity. I cannot explain the method now but watch out for 
the dots — lots and lots of litUe dots!” 

Fmt pubtUked tn ‘The Beader’s Digesf in 1946 

2X8 



THE enemy’s masterpiece OF ESPIONAGE 210 

‘I have been sent to America with my orders - and ^vas told 
nothing more,’ our secret agent said. 

Until this time, the FBI had kept German and Japanese 
espionage m the United States backed into a comer by con- 
stantly uncovering every new enemy communication technique. 
■\Vehad identified their couriers, traced their mail drops, broken 



their codes and solved their secret inks; we had tracked down 
their hidden radio transmitters, sometimes operating them for 
the enemy. 

Once we took from a spy’s pocket a box of safety matches. 
Four of them, looking just like the others, -were actually little 
pencils that wTote invisibly, the writing later to be developed by 
a solution made from a rare drug. This stoiy^-book contraption 
we exposed, along wth micro-film letters rolled around a spool 
and covered wnth silk thread, stitched into the backbones of 
magazines; one film was tucked inside the barrel of a fountain 
pen that had to be broken to extract the note. 

■\\Tien eight saboteurs landed on the Atlantic Coast, they 
carried handkerchiefs on ivhich the high command had written 
in ghost ink the names of Nazi s^mipathisers in the United 
States. From the rubber heel of one agent w'C remo\ed a photo- 
graphic image of a U.S. Navy bluepnnt for a submanne escape 
dence. 

All these derices, and more, we had detected - but w'hat was 
this matter of the ‘dots, dots, dots’? 



220 


reader’s digest omnibus 


Our first move was to call in from our laboratories a young 
physicist who had done extraordinary work in colour micro- 
photography. He was assigned to certain experiments, based on 
guesses m our office about the mearung of Sebold’s boast. 
Meamvhile, every agent was looking feverishly for some telltale 
evidence of the as yet undetected dots. 

One day in August, 1941, we met a youngish traveller from 
the Balkans on his arrival in the United States. "We knew he 
was the playboy son of a millionaire. There was reason to believe 
he was a German agent. "With meticulous care, we examined 
his possessions - fi-om toothbrush to shoes ; his clothes, his papers 
Wlule a laboratory agent was holding an envelope so that the 
light slanted obliquely across its surface, he saw a sudden tiny 
gleam. A dot had reflected the light. A dot - a punctuation 
period on the front of the envelope; a black particle no bigger 
than a fly speck. 

With infinite care, the agent touched the point of a needle 
under the rim of the black circle and pried the thing loose. It 
was a bit of alien matter that had been driven into the fibre of 
the paper, where it looked like a typewritten period. Under the 
microscope it was magnified 200 times. And then we could see 
that It was an image on a film of a full-sized typewritten letter; 
a spy letter ivith blood-chillmg text: 

There is reason to believe that the scientific -works for the 
utilisation of atomic-kernel energy are being driven for- 
ward into a certain direction in the United States partly by 
use of helium. Continuous information about the tests made 
on this subject are required and particularly: 

1. "WTiat process is practised in the United States for 
transportmg heavy uranium? 

2. ■\\Taere are being made tests %vith uranium? (Uni- 
versities, industrial laboratories, etc.) 

3. "WTiich other raw materials are being used in these 
tests? Entrust only,best experts -with this. 

Now we had it! The German espionage service had found a 
way to photograph a full-sized letter do^vn to the size of a 
midge. Actually, that was what we had suspected. Our scientists 
bad succeeded in making some very small images of our o^vn; 



THE EXEMY’s masterpiece OF ESPIOXAGE 221 

their handicap lay not m the theory- but in lacking the emulsion 
the Germans had perfected. 

It -was incredibly ingenious and cffecti\e, this micro-dot 
gadget. It perfectly counterfeited a tjpewTitten or printed dot. 
The young Balkan agent, for example, had four telegraph blanks 
in his pocket, carrying Lilliputian spy orders that looked like 
periods; ii micro-dots on the four papers. AVc found one tiny 
strip of the film pasted under a postage stamp that carried the 
images of 25 fuU-sized tj-pewntten sheets! 

"NVe now knew that the Balkan playboy had orders to investi- 
gate not only our atomic energy project but also to report on 
monthly production of planes, how manj were dch\crcd to 
Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and how many .\merican 
pilots w’ere being trained. Under questiomng, he was bland, 
affable, and, seeing that we knew about the dots, he began to 
gush information. 

He had studied under the famous Professor Zapp, im entor of 
the imero-dot process, at the Techmeal High School in Dresden. 
Espionage messages were first tj'ped on square sheets of paper 
and then photographed with a high-precision miniature camera. 
This first reduction w as to about the size of a postage stamp. Again 
It w'as photographed, this time through a reversed microscope, 
the infimtesimally small image being retained and developed 
on a glass slab heavily coated with the secret emulsion. The 
developed negative was then painted over with collodion, so 
the emulsion could be shpped bodily off the glass. The technician 
then used a curious adaptation of the h)-podermic needle, the 
pomt of which was clipped oflT and the round edge sharpened. 
This was placed over Uie micro-dot as a baker’s cutting cup 
pmches out a piece of dough - and the micro-dot lifted out. 

Next, at a pomt on the letter where the dot was to be placed 
the paper was scratched ever so shghtly with a needle. Tlie 
s)Tinge plunger pressed the dot into the texture Another v erv* 
small needle scratched the fibre back over the dot and finallv it 
received a dab of collodion to tie down the fibres of the paper. 

Later, Zapp immensely simplified his process. In a cabinet 
the size of a dispatch case, most of these operations were per- 
formed mechanically. Eventually the machines were turned out 
in quantity and shipped to agents m South America. Periodic 
consignments of the emulsion were also dispatched at intervals. 



222 


reader’s digest omnibus 


To read the missives, Nazi agents in South America carried an 
ingenious collapsible microscope. 

I doubt if we can ever disclose the method by which we 
were able to spot and intercept hundreds of micro>dot messages 
written in South America. Through the constant scrutiny of 
micro-dots we got a daily insight into the doings of various 
gangs. They were viciously active, acquiring information on 
ship movements through the Panama Canal, the deficient con- 
dition of one of the locks, the extent of destruction of U.S. oil 
stores in the attack on Pearl Harbour. Urgent demands came 
from Berlin for more and more. On one spy we found what 
seemed an innocent telephone message on a crumpled memo 
form from a hotel switchboard. But the printing of that blank 
contained two periods which when enlarged contained several 
messages, including the following: 

Here are special orders. 

It is reported that a cartridge powder is being manu- 
factured in the U.S. A. which is practically smokeless and 
has a weak muzzle fire. More details desired: Colour of 
the muzzle fire, colour of the smoke. If possible, the 
composition of the powder.^ 

The Japanese, too, were playing the dot game. On 1 2 February 
1942 micro-dot message number 90 of a series being watched, 
embedded in the envelope of a letter mailed to an address in 
Brazil, relayed a message from Tokyo to a Japanese naval 
attache in South America as follows: 

If communication -with Q,. is impossible send I. or repre- 
sentative to Argentina to establish communications with 
the naval attache there. 

Q,. was a notorious Japanese naval spy. 

Often messages were trumped up by the agents to fool their 
superiors into thinking they had extraordinary inside sources of 
information. Spies constantly lifted items from news magazines. 
Between 20 January 1942 and 5 February 1943, they sent 16 
messages lifted from Tim and 72 from Newsweek. But Germans 
in Portugal also paid neutral sailors for copies of American 

* This is part of the message reproduced on page 218 from FBI files 



THE enemy’s masterpiece OF ESPIONAGE 223 

magazines - 300 escudos, then about $2 1 , for a single magazine 
containing mihtar)’ mformation. So the cat i\as soon out of the 
bag and a plaintive message came through to all German agents: 

‘We want what is not printed in the news ’ 

Many spies were arrested, many gang nests cleaned out, 
because we had the secret of the micro-dot. One day a message 
mentioned casually the name of a woman resident of Madnd. 
A search of our voluminous cross-file re\ealcd that some >ears 
before she had cabled money to a man in America. Wc found 
that this young man was idhng m Washington, and tliat he had 
oncebeenvery attentive to an Amencan girl. Later she had joined 
the ^Vacs and was now on the Pacific Coast As always, the 
Army co-operated; the young 'Wac was ordered to 'Washington 
and 15 minutes after her arrival she was in the FBI office. 

How w'ell did she know this man'^* Once he had been \cry 
attentive to her but his broodmg and secretive manner had 
repelled her; finally she dropped all correspondence with him. 
"VVe put the problem to her frankly : w hat w e needed w as a pipc- 
hne into his innermost thoughts. As a soldier in the Army of the 
Umted States would she be wilhng to try to discover if he were 
an enemy? 

It w'as contrived that she ivould run into her admirer acci- 
dentally on the street. Taken in by the ruse, he was delighted to 
see her again and for the next month the \Vac pla> cd Delilah 
magnificently. Today the spy is behind bars because he blabbed 
to her of his espionage work, beIic\Tng in his vanit>' tliat she 
loved him enough to be his accomphee. 

That is the ivay thmgs go* you wait for the breaks; the enemy 
will eventually make a imstake. In this case, he should never 
have mentioned that w’oman in Madrid in his secretly concealed 
letter. 

The most important case broken through the micro-dot was 
in a South Amencan country, where we were finding letters 
wntten b) all sorts of people - ever>* one loaded irith micro-dots 
for Berlin. Love letters, family missucs, business communica- 
tions, all seemed harmless, but their embedded micro-dot 
messages had to do with the blowing up of seized Axis ships 
m southern harbours and details of war production. The letters 
w ere in different handwiitings, or t^.’ped on Mirious n’pewnters, 
but the micro-dots they secretly earned were all produced b\ 



224 reader’s digest omnibus 

the same machines, the signatures in the same handwriting. 
Hence all were prepared by a single organisation. The day 
came when in one city after another in South America, from 
shop and office and home. South Amencan authonties aided by 
our agents were able to seize a great interlocking ring of Nazi 
agents - all enemies of the Umted States. 

These are but samples of the plans we blocked because we 
got that tip-off on the micro-dot from an agent planted right 
under Dr Sebold’s enormous nose. 

Was this so-called German masterpiece the last word in secret 
communications^ By no means. Today the U.S. Government 
has a process infinitely superior. Nothing like it has ever been 
used before. But we are not boasting about it. Espionage being 
the merciless struggle that it is, the day may come when we 
shall have to devise something better. 




MAMMA AND HER BANK ACCOUNT 

Condensed from The Toronto Star Weekly 

A SHORT STORY BY KATHRYN FORBES 

Every Saturday night Mamma would sit down by the scrubbed 
kitchen table and with much ^vrinkhng of usually placid brows 
count out the money Papa had brought home in the httle 
envelope. 

There would be various stacks. ‘For the landlord,’ Mamma 
would say, pihng up the big silver pieces. 

‘For the grocer.’ Another group of coins. 

‘For Karen’s shoes to be half-soled,’ and Mamma would 
count out the httle silver. 

‘Teacher says this week I’ll need a notebook.’ That would be 
Dagmar or Knstin or Nels or I. 

Mamma would solemnly detach a nickel or a dime and set 
it aside. 

We would watch the diminishing pile with breathless interest. 
At last. Papa would ask, ‘Is all?’ and when Mamma nodded, we 

Ftnl puiluhed in ‘The Reader's DigesF in 1941 



MAMMA AND HER BANK ACCOUNT 


could relax a little and reach for school books and homc\\ork. 
For Mamma would look up then and smile ‘Is good ’ she'd 
murmur. ‘^Ve do not have to go to The Bank.’ 

It was a wonderful thing, tliat Bank Account of Mamma's. 
We were all so proud of it. It ga\c us such a warm, secure 
feeling. No one else we knew* had money in a bjg bank down town. 



I remember when tlie Jensens down the street were put out 
because they couldn’t pay their rent. We children w*atched the 
big strange men carry out the furniture, took furti\ e notice of 
poor Mrs Jensen’s shamed tears and I was choked with sudden 
fear. This, then, happened to people who didn't ha\e the stack 
of coins marked Landlord Alight this - could tins \iolcncc 
happen to us^ 

Then Dagmar’s hot httle hand clutched mine ‘IFf have a 
Bank Account,’ she reassured me softly and suddenly I could 
breathe again. 

^^^len Nels graduated from high school he w’anted to go on to 
busmess college. ‘Is good,’ Mamma said, and Papa nodded 
approvingly. 

Eagerly we brought up chairs and gathered around the table. 
I took down the gaily painted box that .Aunt Signd had sent us 
from Norway one Christmas and laid it carcfull) in front of 
Mamma. 

This w'as the ‘Little Bank’. Not to be confused, \ou under- 
stand, with the Big Bank down town. The Little Bank was used 
for sudden emergencies, such as the time Kristin broke her arm 




226 


reader’s digest omnibus 


and had to be taken to a doctor, or when Dagmar got croufi 
and Papa had to go to the drugstore for medicme to put into 
the steam kettle. 

Nels had it all written out neatly. So much for tuition, so 
much for books. Mamma looked at the neat figures for a long 
time. Then she counted out the money in the Little Bank. 
There was not enough. 

She pursed her bps.- ‘We do not,’ she reminded us gently, 
‘want to have to go to The Bank.’ 

We all shook our heads. 

‘I will work in Dillon’s grocery during vacation,’ Nels 
volunteered. 

Mamma gave him a bright snule and laboriously ivrote down 
a sum and added and subtracted. Papa did it in his head. He 
was very quick on arithmetic. ‘Is not enough,’ he said. Then 
he took his pipe out of his mouth and looked at it for a long 
time. ‘I give up tobacco,’ he said suddenly. 

Mamma reached across the table and touched Papa’s sleeve, 
but she didn’t say anything. Just wrote down another figure. 

‘I will mind the Sonderman children every Friday night,’ I 
said. ^Vhen I saw the eyes of the little ones I added, ‘Kristin, 
Dagmar and Karen will help me.’ 

‘Is good,’ Mamma said. 

We all felt very good. We had passed another milestone 
•without havmg to go do'wn town and draw money out of 
Mamma’s Bank Account. The Little Bank was sufficient for the 
present. 

So many things, I remember, came out of it that year. 
Karen’s costume for the school play, Dagmar’s tonsil operation, 
my Girl Scout umform. And always, m the background, was 
the comfortmg knowledge that should our efforts fail, we still 
had The Bank to depend upon. 

Even when the stnke came. Mamma would not let us worry 
unduly. We all worked together so that the momentous trip 
doivn toivn could be postponed. It was almost like a game. 

"We didn’t even mind ha'vmg to move the sideboard into the 
kitchen so that we could let the front room to two boarders. 

During that time Mamma ‘helped out’ at Kruper’s bakery 
for a big sack of only slightly stale bread and coffee cake. And 
as Mamma said, fresh bread was not too good for a person and 



MAMMA AND HER BANK ACCOUNT 227 

if you put coffee cake into the hot oven it was nearly as nice as 
when first baked 

Papa washed bottles at the creamery every' night and they 
gave him three quarts of fresh milk and all the sour milk he 
could carry away. Alamma made fine cheese. 

The day the strike was over and Papa went back to work, I 
saw Mamma stand a httle straighter, as if to get a kink out of 
her back. 

She looked around at us proudly. ‘Is good,’ she smiled ‘Sec? 
We did not have to go doivn to The Bai^ * 

* * * 

Then suddenly, it seemed, all the children were grown up and 
working. One by one w’e married and went away. Papa seemed 
shorter now, and Mamma’s wheaten braids were sheened with 
silver. 

The little house w’as ‘clear’, and Papa’s pension started. 

Last y'ear I sold my first story. 

"When the cheque came I burned over to Mamma’s and pul 
the long green slip of paper m her lap. ‘For >ou,’ I said, ‘to put 
in your Bmik Account.’ 

She fingered it for a moment. ‘Is good,’ she said. 

‘Tomorrow,’ I told her, ‘you must take it down to The Bank.’ 
‘You 'Will go with me, Kathiy'n?’ 

‘That won’t be necessary, Mamma. See? I’xe endorsed it to 
you. Just hand it to the teller, he’ll deposit it to \our account ’ 
A httle smile touched her bps as she looked up at me. 

‘Is no account,’ Mamma said. ‘In all my life I never been 
inside a Bank.’ 

CONCERT PITCH 

The late 'Snadiimr de Pachmann, most capnaous of pianists, 
always fussed over his piano stool in full \'ievN of the 
audience. On one occasion, he fiddled and fumed and called 
for something to sit on. ^Vhcn a tluck book w as handed him, 
he tried it, shook his head. Then he carcfullj tore off a 
Mngle page, tried it again, and smiled happily as he began 
his first number. 




MOTHER’S BILLS 

Condensed from ‘Life with Father^ 

» 

CLARENCE DAY 

Father was always trying to make Mother keep track of the 
household expenses. He had a full set of account books at home 
m addition to those in his office, and his ledger showed at a 
glance exactly how much a month or a year his clothes or his 
club or his cigar bills amounted to. Before he got mamed, these 
books had apparently given him great satisfaction, but he said 
they were never the same after that. He still knew what his 
personal expenses were, but they were microscopic compared 
to his household expenses, and of these he knew no details, only 
the hombl'e total. 

Every once in so often he tried to explain his system to 
Mother. But Mother didn’t feel that women should have any- 
thing to do with accounts, any more than men should have to 
see that the parlour was dusted. Every time Father showed her 
his ledger, she was unsympathetic. She had to do the mending 
and marketing and take care of the children, and she told Father 
she had no time to leam to be a book-keeper too. 

Father knew where some of the money went, for part of the 
expenses were charged. But, looking at the bills, he said that 
many of the details were not clear to him, and most of the rest 
were incredible. He tned to go over the bills regularly with 
Mother, demanding information about items he did not under- 
stand. But every now and then there were items she didn’t 
understand, either. She behaved as though the bill were a total 
stranger to her. This was one of the features that enraged Father 
most. 

Mother was one of those persons for whom charge accounts 
were invented. When she bought something and charged it, the 
first of the next month seemed far away, and she hoped that 
Father might be mce about it for once. She was a different 
woman entirely when she had to pay cash. It was hard to get 

Ftrst pubUsiei tn ‘The Readers DigesT tn 1935 


228 



mother’s bills 


229 

cash out of Father, and she thought Uvice before she could bear 
to part with, the money. But shopping on a charge account %\as 
fun. 

Father did his level best to take tlic fun out of it. Once c\ cn 
month he held court and sat as judge, and required her to 
explain her crimes and misdemeanours 'When she cried he said 
at the top of his voice that he wished to be reasonable but that 
he couldn’t afford to spend mone)' that way, and the) would 
have to do better. What made household expenses jump up and 
dowTi so^ ‘Anyone would suppose that there would be some 
regularity after a while which would let a man trs to make 
plans, but I never know from one month to the next what to 
expect.’ 

Mother said she didn’t, cither. All she knew was that when 
the bills mounted up, it didn’t mean that she had been 
extravagant. \ 

‘^Vell, It certainly means that you’ve spent a dc\il of a lot of 
money,’ said Father 

There were times when etcry month the totals ivcnt up and 
up; and then, just as Father had resigned himself to this awful 
outgo, the expenses, to his utter amazement, would take a sharp 
drop 

Mother didn’t keep track of these totals, she was too bus) 
w'atching small details, and Father nc\cr knew whether to tell 
her the good news or not. He alwa)s did tell her, because he 
couldn’t keep things to himself But he alwa)s had cau^c to 
regret it. He told her in as disciplmar) a manner as possible 
He appeared at her door, w a\ang the bills at her w ith a ilircatcn- 
mg scowl, and said, ‘r\c told )Ou again and again that \ou 
could keep expenses down if )ou tned, and this shows I was 
right.’ 

Motlier w'as alwa)'s startled at these attacks, but she didn’t 
lose her presence of mind She asked how much the amount w as 
and said it was all due to her good management, of course, and 
Father ought to gi\ e her the diflcrcnce 

At this point Father suddenK found himself on the dcfcn'ii c 
and the entire moral lecture he had intended to dclncr w.is 
wrecked. The more thes talked, the clearer it seemed to Mother 
that he owed her that monev Onl\ when he i%as lucks could he 
get out of her room wathout pa)ing it. 



reader’s digest omnibus 


230 

He said this was one of the things about her that was enough 
to drive a man mad. 

The other thing was her lack of system, which was always 
cropping up in new ways. Father at last invented what seemed 
a perfect method of recording expenses. Whenever he gave any 
money to Mother, he asked her what it was for and made a note 
of it. These items, added to those in the bills, would show him 
exactly where every dollar had gone. 

But they didn’t. 

He consulted his notebook. T gave you six dollars on the 
25th of last month,’ he said, ‘to buy a new coffee-pot.’ 

‘Yes,’ Mother said, ‘because you broke your old one. You 
threw it right on the floor.’ 

Father frowned. ‘I’m not talking about that,’ he answered. ‘I 
am simply endeavouring to find out from you, if I can — ^ 

‘But it’s so silly to break a nice cofiee-pot, Clare, and there 
was nothing the matter with the coffee that mormng; it was 
made just the same as it always is.’ 

‘It wasn’t,’ said Father. ‘It was made in a damned barbaric 
manner.’ 

‘And I couldn’t get another French one,’ Mother continued, 
‘because that httle shop had stopped selling them.’ 

‘But I gave you six dollars to buy a new pot,’ Father firmly 
repeated, ‘and now I find that you apparently got one at Lewis 
& Conger’s and charged it. Here’s their bill: “one brown 
earthenware drip coffee-pot, $5.” ’ 

‘So I saved you a dollar,’ Mother said triumphantly, ‘and 
you can hand it nght over to me.’ 

‘Bah! What nonsense you talk!’ Father cried. ‘Is there no way 
to get this thing straightened out^ ^Vhat did you do with the six 
dollars?’ 

‘Why, Clare! I can’t tell you now, dear. "Why didn’t you ask 
at the time?’ 

‘Oh, my God!’ Father groaned. 

‘Wait a moment,’ said Mother. ‘I spent four dollars and a 
half for that nice new umbrella I told you I wanted, and you 
said I didn’t need a new one, but I did, very much.’ 

Father vvrote ‘New Umbrella for Vmnie’ in his notebook. 

‘And that must have been the week,’ Mother went on, ‘that I 
paid for two extra days’ washing, so that was two dollars more 



HOW HARMFUL ARE CIGARETTES? 23I 

out of it, which makes it six-fifty. There’s another fifty cents you 
owe me.’ 

T don’t owe >ou anythmg,’ Father said. Tou have managed 
to turn a coffee-pot for me into an umbrella for you No matter 
what I give you money for, you buy something else with it, and 
if this is to keep on I might as well not keep account books at all. 
I’m not made of money. You seem to think I have only to put 
my hand in my pocket to get some.’ 

Mother not only thought this, she knew it. His wallet %vas 
alwap full. That was the pro\ oking part of it - she knew he had 
the money right there, but she had to argue it out of him. 

*^Vell, you can put your hand in your pocket and give me that 
dollar-fifty this minute,’ she said. 

Father said he didn’t have a dollar-fifty to spare and tried to 
get back to his desk, but Mother wouldn’t let him go till he paid 
her. She said she wouldn’t put up %vith mjustice. 

HOW HARMFUL ARE CIGARETTES? 

ROGER WILLIAM RIIS 

Ix ALL the history of human habit, there have been few 
changes so remarkable as the tidal-wave increase of cigarette 
smokmg. This habit has laid hold upon the world to an extent 
which we do not begin to realise, and with effects which we 
certainly do not understand. 

"^Vhat is this substance which we breathe into our mouths and 
lungs in such stupendous clouds? It contains a number of 
ominous-sounding chemicals. Medical men, however, have not 
proved a case against them. But tivo of the chermcals are 
under grave suspicion: benzo-p>Tene, which chiefly affects the 
repiratory tract, and nicotine. 

Nicotme is the essential mgredient of tobacco. It is what 
makes tobacco tobacco, and not just another weed. 

IMien one smokes, most of the mcotine escapes mto the air. 
About a third gets into the mouth, where a httle is absorbed Of 
what goes into the lungs, perhaps a fifth is absorbed. The efiect 

Ftrsi in *TJie ResSer's Di^es? in 1930 



reader’s digest omnibus 


232 

of smoking a cigar is equal to. that of four or five cigarettes A 
pipe gives one a trifle more nicotine than does a cigar. 

The hotter the burning surface, the more nicotine is taken 
into the system. Thus, the faster one smokes, the more nicotine 
one gets; smoking twice as fast results in ten times as much 
nicotine. And the closer to the end of a cigarette one smokes, the 
more nicotine also, because the butt, having filtered the first 
part of the cigarette, has more than its share of nicotine. 

in pure form nicotine is a violent poison. One drop on a 
rabbit’s skm throws the rabbit into instant shock. The nicotine 
content of a trifle more than two cigarettes, if injected into the 
blood-stream, would kill a smoker swiftly. If you smoke a 
packet of twenty a day, you inhale 400 milligrams of nicotine a 
week, which in a single injection would kill you quick as a 
bullet. 

In factories which make nicotine insecticides, cases of acute 
poisoning occur now and then. One worker sat on a stool the 
concave seat of which held a little spilled nicotine. In less than 
two minutes he fell to the floor, blue in the face, apparently 
dead. Rushed to the hospital, he recovered quickly, as one does 
from light nicotine poisoning. But when he returned to.the shop 
and put on those mcotine-soaked trousers again, again he fell 
headlong on the ground, and had to be revived a second time. 

Aware that nicotine is a killer, men have tried for years to 
keep It out of their systems while still enjoying the smoke. All 
types of artificial filters take out some nicotine. The kind which 
uses another cigarette as a filter is said to remove 70 per cent; 
the kind which uses a silica-gel cartridge removes 60 per cent. 
But with a filter one is likely tO smoke a cigarette until it is 
shorter than if a filter had not been used - usually 20 per cent 
shorter - and that extra length is the nicotine-filled butt. 

Tests of various popular brands show that the average nico- 
tine content of Virginia-blend cigarettes is around six per cent; 
of Turkish cigarettes, one and a half per cent; of the so-called 
‘denicotinised’ cigarettes, just over one per cent; and, strangely 
enough, of the strong-lookmg West Indian cigarettes, least of all 
- '86 per cent. 

In the 400 thousand million cigarettes Americans smoke each 
year there are nearly 23 milhon gallons of nicotine. Adimnistered 
with precision, this is enough to kill a thousand times the 



HOW HARMFUL ARE CIGARETTES? 233 

population of the United States - a wld idea, of course, but 
nevertheless suggestive of nicotine’s lethal power. 

If nicotine is such a poison, then why doesn’t smoking kill us? 
Partly because the remarkably adjustable human body can 
gradually bmlt up a tolerance for larger and lai^er doses of 
poison; partly because, in smoke, it is not accumulated in 
sufficient quantities Just what the harmful effects of smoking 
are, the reader iitII judge for himself from the foUowang 
evidence. 

Do cigarettes irritate the throat? Yes, say some physicians. 
But other physicians say they don’t. This conflict of expert 
opinion matters a great deal to smokers Let us weigh vanous 
opinions and the factual expenence back of them 

First, no doctor claims that smoking soothes the throat. The 
argument, as an editorial in The Journal of the American Medical 
Association puts it, hinges on ‘the extent to which cigarettes 
imtate the throat.’ 

If you smoke a packet of twenty a day, you take in 840 cubic 
centimetres of tobacco tar in a year. That means that you have 
drenched your throat and lungs with 27 fluid ounces of tobacco 
tar containmg benzo-pjTene. 

The brown stain in filters or on your handkerchief when you 
blow smoke through it is not nicotine, for mcotine is colourless; 
It is incompletely burned tar products, hke the soot m a 
chimney. Many physicians suspect that its mam constituent, 
benzo-pvTene, though an irritant rather than a poison, is a 
greater threat to heai^y smokers than nicotine. 

It matters far more how you smoke than ivhat you smoke, 
stated Dr Arthur ^V. Proetz, nose and throat specialist of 
Washmgton University: whether you puff briskly or gently, 
how far doira the butt you smoke, how long y^ou hold the smoke 
in the mouth and lungs Rapid smoking, reports Major C W. 
Crampton in The Military Surgeon, ‘greatly increases the irrita- 
tion’ because it bnngs the smoke into the mouth at temperatures 
up to 135® Fahrenheit. 

On the other hand, in heanngs before the U S Government 
Trade Commission, Dr Alvan L. Barach of New York, a witness 
for a cigarette manufacturer, asserted ‘I don’t beheve cigarette 
smoking produces any damage with respect to the lungs . I don’t 
beheve so-caUed cigarette cough is a reahty.’ 



reader’s digest omnibus 


234 

Yet there is probably no steady smoker who is not convinced 
that smoking does irritate his throat. 

Do cigarettes aifect the stomach and digestion? Every smoker 
has noticed that a cigarette seems able to still the pangs of 
hunger for a while. This is not a delusion. The sensation of 
hunger is caused by contractions of the stomach walls and 
smoking can suppress these contractions. 

By the same process, smoking interferes with the appetite and 
thereby with good nutrition. ‘We all have friends who have quit 
smoking and have promptly gained in weight and look like new 
persons,’ says Dr Walter C. Alvarez, editor of Gastroenterology and 
specialist at the Mayo Clinic- ‘WTien a man smokes excessively 
he is less likely to eat well.’ 

Excessive smoking may cause gastritis. By favouring an 
accumulation of acid secretions, it brings about heartburn. Relief 
comes in a matter of hours after the smoking stops. 

Excess acidity of the stomach provides the kind of climate 
ulcers hke. The most recent work in this field, done by New York 
University, showed that patients who continued to smoke during 
treatment for their peptic ulcers had more relapses than those 
who did not, or those who had never smoked at all. 

At most clinics ulcer patients are told not to smoke. In Boston 
doctors had an interesting case some years ago, a man who had 
all the symptoms of duodenzd ulcer. Even the X-ray showed it. 
But an operation found no ulcer at all. The patient stopped 
smoking, under orders, and his ‘ulcer’ left him. Three months 
later, feeling quite well, he took up smoking again, and back 
came the ‘ulcer’. This time, however, the doctors ordered him 
off cigarettes completely. Smce he stopped smoking, he has had 
no more ‘ulcers’. 

Anti-tobacco crusaders assert that pregnant women should 
never smoke. Doctors have worked on this point for years and 
are clearer about it than about almost any other agiect of 
smoking. The conclusion : Smoking does not do pregnant women 
any more harm, or any different harm, than it does anyone 
else. 

Two pediatricians in Philadelphia analysed mothers’ milk for 
nicotine content. They found 1*4 parts in ten million among 
moderate smokers, 4*7 parts among heavy smokers. But they 
could detect no effect whatsoever on the babies. 



HOW HARMFUL ARE CIGARETTES? 235 

Is smoking bad for athletes? INTiere sta^Tng power is de- 
manded, tobacco lowers athletic performance. At Aldershot 
in England a three-mile cross-country run is a reqmred 
event. Over seven years the performance of almost 2,000 
men was analysed, in groups of heavy smokers, moderate 
smokers, non-smokers. 

The heavy smokers, eight per cent of the total, drew nine per 
cent of the last ten places, but only five per cent of the first ten 
The moderate smokers, 73 per cent of the total, got 62 per cent 
of the first places and 83 per cent of the last places The non- 
smokers, 18 per cent of the total, took 32 per cent of the firsts 
and only seven per cent of the lasts. 

Non-smokers, in four years at Yale University, grew more in 
height and weight and lung capadty than did their smoking 
colleagues. The mcrease in chest development of the abstainers 
ivas 77 per cent better, their increase m height 24 per cent 
greater. 

Athletic coaches are almost unanimous in saying that muscular 
power IS lowered and fatigue begins earher m smokers. 

^STiat does tobacco do to the heart’ As to the long-run efiects, 
medical opimons difier. As to the immediate effects of cigarette 
smokmg upon the mechanism of the heart and upon the artenes 
and veins, there is no difierence of opinion, for these effects are 
easy to obseri'c and measure. 

Smoking may speed the pulse by as much as 28 beats per 
minute. In this respect individuals vary, and the same individual 
vanes at different times. The average increase in pulse due to 
smoking is ten beats. 

Smoking can produce arrhythmia, an irregular stop and 
jump of the heart which often thoroughly frightens its owner. 
The puke of an unborn baby is raised when the mother smokes. 
Habitual smokers have a 50 per cent higher incidence of 
palpitation of the heart than non-smokers. 

Smoking raises the blood pressure, markedly and quickly. 
The higher your blood pressure k, the more sharply does 
tobacco lift it. Apparently the blood pressure does not develop 
any tolerance for tobacco, as does the digestive system Never- 
theless, smoking does not cause permanent high blood pressure 
"When the smoking stops, the pressure falk slow'ly to normal. 

Smoking constncts the blood-vessek, especially those of the 


236 reader’s digest omnibus 

feet and hands. The smaller the blood-vessel the tighter is it 
constncted, and often smoking closes the tiny vessels under the 
fingernails entirely. As soon as one starts a cigarette, the rate of 
blood flow in the hands decreases to less than half normal, and 
it stays down for about an hour. 

The effect of this constriction is curious. The temperature of 
hands and feet drops. In recent hospital-controlled eiqieriments 
practically all the subjects who inhaled showed a defimte drop 
in surface temperature at the fingertips The drop averaged 5*33 
degrees, was frequently more than 10 degrees, and occasionally 
as much as 15*5. 

Nicotine constricts the veins; alcohol dilates them. AMien ive 
drink and smoke at the same time, we are in effect prodding 
ourselves ivith a pitchfork to get a lift and beating ourselves on 
the head with a club to offset it. Hence the popular belief that 
taking a drink offsets the effect of a cigarette. Drs Roth and 
Sheard went into this, making 12 1 tests on 65 persons. The 
winner was nicotine; it was more potent than alcohol; ‘the 
constricting effects of smoking cannot be prevented by alcohol’. 

Buerger’s disease - fortunately rather uncommon - is charac- 
terised by loss of circulation in hands and feet, sometimes so 
serious that gangrene may form and amputation be necessary. 
Doctors are cautious souls and do not say that smoking causes 
Buerger’s disease. But in a study of 1,000 sufferers from Buerger’s 
disease 1,000 turned out to be smokers; and of another 1,400 
cases checked at Mt Sinai Hospital, New York, 1,400 were 
smokers. A group of 100 cases was studied for more than ten 
years, in all of them the disease was arrested when smoking 
stopped. Dr Irving ^ Vright reports that in 1 00 consecutive cases 
amputation was avoided in 97 cases, but was necessary in three 
- the only three who would not stop smoking. Only a few isolated 
cases have ever been reported among non-smokers. 

No more vivid and dismaymg comment on the strength of 
habit could be imagined than the reaction of one Buerger’s 
patient, who was told repeatedly that he must choose between 
smoking and progressive amputation of feet and hands. Some 
years later one of the doctors was hailed on the street by an 
armless, legless beggar on a little wheeled platform. 

‘Hey, Doc! Remember me? Say, be a good scout, light a 
cigarette for me and stick it in my mouth, will you?’ 



HOW HARMFUL ARE CIGARETTES? 237 

There is no proof that smoking causes heart disease But there 
is evidence that heart disease is more prevalent among smokers 
than among non-smokers, and that smoking may mtensif)' 
eMSting heart disease. 

Doctors selected i,ooo men over 40 who smoked and 1,000 
who did not smoke. Of the non-smokers under 50, one per cent 
had coronary' disease, of the smokers 4 8 per cent. Of Ae non- 
smokers in age group 50-60, 2 6 per cent had coronary disease, 
of the smokers 6 2 per cent. 

Virginia doctors, in an article on angina pectoris, point 
out that ‘coronary disease develops before the seventh decade 
significantly more often in smokers than m non-smokers’ 

"WTiat does all this add up to^ The chief difference of opinion 
IS as to how much damage smoking does to the heart All doctors 
agree it can damage sick hearts It is, in short, never a help and 
often a menace. 

■Will cigarettes induce cancer? ‘For every expert who blames 
tobacco for the increase in cancer of the lung,’ says Dr Charles 
S. Cameron, medical director of the American Cancer Society, 
‘there is another who says that tobacco is not the cause’. 
The ACS formally states that there is no answer generally 
accepted as scientifically vahd. The question is being examined 
c£u-efully, UTthin a year there may be ‘sufiBcient data for 
pubhcation*. 

This probably refers to the most extensive and reliable 
research yet made in this field, which is nmv being completed 
by Dr Evarts Graham and Ernest \Vynder, one of his semor 
medical students at AVashington Umversity, St Louis Dr 
Graham’s studies will cover close to 2,000 persons It is expected 
to show that over 95 per cent of patients with lung cancer smoke 
a packet of cigarettes a day or more, and have done so for many 
years. 

‘^Ylll you be able to say clearly that smoking causes lung 
cancer?’ I asked. Dr Graham shook his head. 

‘No,’ he replied, ‘but we will say that it is curious how very 
few non-smokers develop lung cancer.’ 

‘Very few'’ is one-half of one per cent of the \ictims of this 
disease. This contrasts with the 95 per cent who are steady 
smokers. 

Cancer of the lung. Dr Graham stresses, has shown a shocking 



reader’s digest omnibus 


238 

increase in the last 35 years. ‘As a possible cause,’ he says, ‘we 
must look for some factor in our civilisation which has shown a 
similar increase. We eliminated carbon monoxide after examining 
traffic policemen who breathe it in large quantities.’ 

Dr Alton Ochsner of the Ochsner Clinic m New Orleans says: 
‘Twenty-five years ago I saw only one cancer of the lung in four 
years. In the last 15 years I have seen thousands. I am con- 
vinced that there is a definite relationship between smoking and 
cancer of the lung.’ 

It is generally agreed that cancer of the mouth, tongue and 
lips is unduly prevalent among smokers. Researchers in widely 
separated areas have come independently to the same conclu- 
sion: that the majority of victims of cancer of the tongue are 
excessive users of tobacco, that pipe smokers who develop lip 
cancer get it at the spot where the pipe has always rested, and 
that tobacco chewers, if they develop cancer, develop it at the 
place where the tobacco has been held. 

Gan smoking shorten your life? Some ten years ago the late 
Dr Raymond Pearl of Johns Hopkins University, studied the 
hfe span and smoking habits of 6,813 males. His carefully tabu- 
lated statistics tell us that if you take 300 people at the age of 30 
“100 of them non-smokers, 100 light smokers and 100 heavy 
smokers - 

Of the 100 non-smokers, 66 will reach 60 years. 

Of the 100 hght smokers, 61 will reach 60. 

Of the 100 heavy smokers, 46 will reach 60. 

‘The conclusion is clear,’ said Pearl, ‘that smoking was statisti- 
cally associated ivith impairment of hfe duration. The amount 
of impairment increased as the amount of smoking mcreased.’^ 

Various doctors have quarrelled wth this -less with the 
figures themselves than ivith the conclusion that smokmg had 
something to do with the death rate. Dr Robert Feldt suggested 
that the men who smoked most were under heavy strain and 
worry, which caused them to smoke more, and was more likely 
to cause them to die early than was the smoking itself. The kind 
of people who smoke to excess, others have pointed out, are 

1 Andrew Salter in his book, Conditioned Reflex Therajy, makes the following 
computations based on Dr Pearl’s figures* ‘The heavy smoker pays wth 34 6 
nunutes of hfe for each cigarette he smokes The twenty-a-day smoker pays with 
ZJ.5 hours for each packet he smokes ’ 



HOW HARMFUL ARE CIGARETTES? 239 

often temperamentally the kind of people who do other things 
to excess also. 

If tobacco is so deadly, ask the doubters, why don’t insurance 
compames consider this in their rates^ Perhaps they will before 
long, for they have been thinking about it. Harry Dingman, in 
the bookiZts^ Appraisal, published by the U.S. National Under- 
ivnter Company, gives some stnldng figures: Habitual smokers 
have 62 per cent higher incidence of gas on the stomach, 65 per 
cent higher incidence of colds, 76 per cent higher incidence of 
nervousness, too per cent higher incidence of heartburn, 140 per 
cent higher mcidence of laboured breathmg after exertion, 
167 per cent higher mcidence of nose and throat irritation, and 
300 per cent higher inadence of cough. 

■\\Tiat does it all come down to? 

Think over the many theoretical and actual kinds of 
damage which smoking causes. Discount them all you want. 
Then look in vain for any evidence of any measurable good 
efiect Then speculate ivith incredulity as to why we go nght 
on smoking. 

It may properly be regretted that anti-tobacco folk are as 
violent as they are m their statements A moderate, reasoning 
person can ivith profit study the possible bad effects of smoking 
and reduce his habit to normal temperance Extreme statements 
do not encourage him to moderation. 

That there are pleasant effects, not subject to measurement, 
milhons of smokers are quick to agree. Dr E. J. Grace says. *I 
know of no other substance m the entne realm of medicine 
tvhich can so readily and promptly occupy all five senses and 
produce a true smoke-screen against reahty Any habit which 
has pow'er to produce a temporaiy' exhilaration will probably 
persist until men and ivomen are more adequately prepared 
mentally to cope ivith this complex civilisation 

‘The problem is infinitely more profound than is apparent. In 
spite of the well-knowm detrimental effects of smoking, the 
temporary solace from it obscures the tragic end results which 
come on insidiously over a period of many years.’ 

Every day, of course, people stop smokmg, and stay stopped. 
Given a good enough reason, almost every confirmed smoker 
will stop The trouble is that the good reason usually only comes 
when (and because) it is too late for the smoker’s health. 



reader’s digest omnibus 


240 

All this being so, why do not physicians warn their patients 
more helpfully about smoking^ Because doctors are human, too, 
and many of them smoke; because many of them therefore 
hesitate to believe the worst about the friendly little cigarette; 
and, as one physician noted sadly, ‘because forbidding tobaceo 
makes the doctor unpopular.’ 

It is an obvious fact that those physicians who are most con- 
cerned about the dangerous effects of smoking are those who 
have had greatest personal experience %vith research into those 
effects. 

A word of personal testimony. 'WTien I began research for this 
article, I was smoking 40 cigarettes a day. As I got into the 
subject, I found that number dropping. As I finish the article, I 
am smoking ten a day. I’d like to smoke more, but my investiga- 
tion of the subject had convinced me that smoking is dangerous 
an 4 , worse - stupid. FmaUy, I enjoy my ten cigarettes ever so 
much more than I did the 40! 

To me. It all adds up to this* smoking is a very pleasant, very 
foolish habit. Most people can indulge in it wth no apparent 
damage. Eight cigarettes a day, apparently, harm no normal 
person. No one should indulge in smoking as much as he wants 
to. Everyone should smoke less, if only for the reason that one 
enjoys it more. 




COMIC RELIEF 

"Walter Pidgeon’s Aunt Nan — an old lady who hves in 
Canada — ^is one woman who is not impressed by the 
actor’s charms. She always wanted Walter to become a 
lawyer, or at lezist something more respectable than an 
actor. So when she read in the papers that he had 
been ranked second to President Gonant of Harvard 
among ‘The Ten Best-Dressed Men in Amenca,’ she 
wrote: 

‘Dear Nephew: I am glad to see you finally associated 
with an intellectual. Kindly thank your tailor for 
me.’ 




HOW TO GUESS YOUR AGE 

Condensed from Collier's 
COREY FORD 

It seems to me that they are bmldmg staircases steeper than 
they used to- The risers are higher, or there are more of them, 
or something At any rate it is getting harder to make two steps 
at a time. Nowadays it is all I can do to make one step at a 
time. 

Another thing I’ve noticed is the small print they’re using 
New'spapers are getting farther and farther away when I hold 
them, and I have to sqmnt to make them out. The other day I 
had to back half-way out of a telephone booth m order to read 
the number on the com box It is ridiculous to suggest that a 
person of my age needs glasses, but the only other way I can find 
out what’s gomg on is to have somebody read aloud to me, and 
that’s not satisfactor)' because people speak in such low voices 
these daj'S that I can’t hear them very well 

Evei^Tlung is farther than it used to be. It’s twice the distance 
from my house to the station now, and they’ve added a fair-sized 
hill that I never noticed before. The trains leave sooner, too. 
I’ve given up runnmg for them, because they start faster when 
I trj' to catch them. 

TTiey don’t put the same material into clothes any more, 
either. All my suits have a tendency to shrink, especially round 
the waist or in the seat of the pants, and the laces they put in 
shoes noi\ada)s are much harder to reach. 

Even the weather is changing. It’s getting colder in winter, 
and the summers are hotter than they used to be. I’d go away, 
if It wasn’t so far. Snow' is heaiier w'hen I try to shovel it 
Draughts are more sev'cre, too It must be the way they build 
w'mdows now. 

People are younger than they used to be when I was their 
age. I went back recently to an alumni reunion at the college I 
graduated from in 1923 and I was shocked to see the mere tots 

First pu&^ishei in *T)ie Reader*s XHjesf in 1950 


241 



reader’s digest omnibus 


242 

they’re admitting as students. They seem to be more pohte than 
m my time, though; several undergraduates called me ‘Sir’, 
and one of them asked me if he could help me across the 
street. 

On the other hand, people my o\vn age are so much older 
than I am. I realise that my generation is approaching middle 
age (roughly the period betvveen 21 and no), but there is no 
excuse for my classmates tottering into advanced senility. I ran 



George,’ I sziid. 

‘It’s this modem food,’ George said. ‘It seems to be more 
fattening.’ 

‘How long since I’ve seen you, George^’ I said. ‘Must be 
many years.’ 

‘I think the last time was right after the election,’ said 
George. 

‘WTiat election was that?’ 

George thought a moment, ‘The one in 1924,’ he said. 

I ordered a couple more Martinis. ‘Have you noticed these 
Martims are weaker than they used to be?’ 

‘It isn’t like the good old days,’ George said. ‘Remember 
when we’d go down to the bar and order some orange blossoms, 
and maybe pick up a couple of flappers^ Hot diggety*’ 

‘You used to be qmte a cake-walker, George,’ I said. ‘Do you 
still do the black bottom?’ 



genius: its cause and care 243 

*I put on too much weight,’ said George. ‘This food noi\ adays 
seems to be more fattening.’ 

‘I know,’ I said. ‘You mentioned that just a minute ago.’ 

‘Did I?’ said George. 

‘How about another Martini^’ I said ‘Have you noticed the 
Martinis aren’t as strong as they used to be^’ 

‘Yeah,’ said George. ‘You said that before.’ 

‘Oh,’ I said. 

I got to thinking about poor old George while I was shawng 
this morning. I stopped for a moment and looked at my 
reflection in the mirror. They don’t seem to use the same kind 
of glass in mirrors any more. 


GENIUS: ITS CAUSE AND CARE 

Condensedfrom The New Republw 
BRUCE BLIVEN 

Why is intdhgence so unequally distributed^ ^\hy are some 
men bold and others timid, some seemingly bom with a desire 
to lead and others to follow, some egotistical and others 
humble? Above aU, how does it happen that now and then 
an individual is supremely gifted in some one field, so that 
the ivorld is blessed ivith a Michelangelo, a Shakespeare, an 
Emstem^ 

Science does not yet know the answers to these questions, 
but today it has come closer to the heart of the nddle 
than ever before. In America’s research laboratories important 
information bearing on the subject has recently been 
unearthed. 

Much of the advance that manland has made throughout 
history has been achieved by persons of outstanding abihty, 
who deserve the name of gemus Effective genius is the product 
of two things in happy conjunction: the right sort of heredity 
and the right sort of emdronment, especially in early life. 
Intelligence is in the main hereditary, scientists believe, though 

Ftrsf puUtiked «n *The Utaie^s in 1941 



reader’s digest omnibus 


244 

they are not yet sure enough to be dogmatic. When it is 
changed by environment, in most cases it is because the 
individual does not do justice to himself in certain surroundings 
and under certain conditions. Personality, on the other hand, is 
almost entirely the result of environmental factors, particularly 
in infancy and childhood. There may be hereditary factors 
apart from sheer intelligence; but science believes that they are 
ummportant compared with such things as imitation of one’s 
elders, discipline, and early attachments and repulsions regard- 
ing other persons. 

This stress upon environment represents a recent change of 
emphasis on the part of science. Not long ago, many experts 
were inchned to take a rigidly mechanistic view of the human 
being. He was considered the victim of his glands. ‘We used to 
hear a good deal about glands regulating personality,’ said 
a great psychiatrist. ‘Today you might almost with equal 
appropriateness talk about “personality regulating glands”. 
Each influences the other in profound and subtle ways.’ The 
new knowledge makes early environment seem important, and 
makes it vital that society should recognise individuals of 
outstanding abihty early in life. 

It is customary to refer to a person of high intelligence as a 
genius, -without regard to what he has accomplished. Even 
scientists do this in absentminded moments, though they prefer 
the phrase, ‘gifted individual’. Roughly speaking, and using 
popular termmology for the sake of convenience, anyone who 
is 40 per cent more mtelhgent than the rank and file is a genius. 
A genius is born, almost always, of parents of superior intelli- 
gence; and his children also are usually above normal. But 
genius does not in-\{ariably beget genius. 

More than a million individuals in the United States today 
rate as geniuses by this definition, and approximately 2,700 
rank in the very highest group. The abihties of thousands of 
them are unrecogmsed, their potential usefulness partly or 
wholly wasted. Some live and die humble members of the 
community whose only public praise is, ‘he’s smart -for a 
garbage collector’ or ‘she remembers more than 300 recipes 
ivithout looking in the book’. How amazingly this is true is 
shown by a recent experiment in Chicago’s bleak Negro quarter, 
where 8,000 children were picked at random and their 



GENIUS- ITS CAUSE AND CARE 


245 

inteUigence tested. More than 100 were markedly high on 
the scale; 29 of these Negroes were mtelhgent enough to 
qualify as gemuses. 

How do the saentists know how many geniuses there are^ 
^NTiat is their standard for high intellectual poi\er’ To make a 
rough definition, the scientist sa^-s that unusual mteihgencc 
signifies a high degree of memory, strong powers of mental 
co-ordination and logic, and the ability to summon these at 
■will. Some years ago, speaalists began creating tests which, 
when given to a large number of people, would indicate their 
relative brightness - usually simple-soundmg questions (some- 
times trick ones), easy puzzles, tests of memory like the 
abihty to repeat seven or eight numbers read off haphazardly. 
After hundreds of thousands of tests, the sdentists found that 
they could establish a normal level of intelligence, which they 
set at 100. K an mdivudual is 10 per cent below this norm he is 
said to have an ‘intelligence quotient’ or I.Q,. of 90; if 20 per 
cent above, an I.Q,. of 120, and so on. 

In the early days, exaggerated claims were sometimes made 
for these intelligence tests, especially by laymen who didn’t 
understand them. Even today, the results should not be apphed 
too rigidly. But there is no doubt that the tests do record 
inteUigence and that their results are likely to correlate Avith 
achievement. 

One of the most fascinating researches of recent years was 
an attempt to study the level of intelligence of great men by 
estimating their childhood I.Q^ and correlating it with known 
facts about the individual 

Under the direction of Dr Catharine Cox of Stanford 
Umversity (now Dr Catharine Miles of Yale), the names of 
300 eminent men bom smce 1450 were compiled, and every 
scrap of information regarding the hves of these individuals to 
age 26 w-as assembled. Experts trained in testing inteUigence 
went over all this evidence ^Ylth true scientific caution, the 
experts refuse to say that the results reveal the actual intelli- 
gence level of these individuals as adults. They will say that it 
w-as not low er than the figure giv en. 

Here are some of the most distinguished names of 
history with their I.Q,. ratings as determmed by Dr Miles’ 



246 


reader’s digest omnibus 


200 (These are considered the supreme intelhgences of 
modem times) : Galton, Goethe, John Stuart Alill. 

190-195: Grotius, Leibmtz. 

180-185: Bacon, Milton, Newton, Pitt, Voltaire. 

1 70-1 75: Chatterton, Coleridge, Luther, Robert Peel, 
Alexander Pope. 

160-165: John Quincy Adams, Burke, Longfellow, Tennyson 

150-155. Samuel Johnson, Mendelssohn, Mozart, George 
Sand, Scott, Wordsworth. 

140-145: John Adams, Emerson, Lincoln, Napoleon, Nelson, 
Thackeray, Washington. 

Genius is often associated ivith precocity, but not always 
John Stuart Mill, the economist, learned Greek at three, studied 
Plato at seven, and Latin, geometry and algebra at eight. "WTien 
a little more than six, he wrote quite a creditable history of, 
Rome. Goethe wrote his immortal Werther at 25, Milton had 
composed what has been called the most beautiful ode in 
Enghsh at 21; Schelhng formulated his philosophy at 20; 
Raphael when one year older had painted the Granduca 
Madonna; Peel was chief secretary for Ireland at 24. 

Another piece of important evidence is the monumental study 
of present-day genius made by Dr Lewis Terman of Stanford 
University and his associates. 

In the early ’20’s Dr Terman began looking for high in- 
telhgence among schoolchildren of the U S, Pacific Coast. Out 
of thousands who were given intelligence tests, about 1,500 
possessed I Q.’s of 150 or more. At intervals ever since, most of 
these 1,500 geniuses have been investigated afresh. On the 
whole, these gifted children are domg much better than their 
normal classmates. They marry early, get divorced less fre- 
quently, their health is good. By the time they are 30 their 
average income is §3,000 a year -far above that of their 
normal classmates and remarkable when you remember that 
these young people went to work during the depression. Quite 
a number were eammg §12,000 or more. They had written 
20 books, hundreds of magazine articles and had taken out 80 
important patents. 

In general, these gifted children, now grown up, have chosen 
careers that might be expected. The men are lawyers, doctors. 



GEXIUS: ITS CAUSE AJfD CARE 


247 

engineers, elergjinen, research experts. Som^ on the other hand, 
are ino\'ie actors and jazzband players. One is a Walt Disney 
artist, another a fox farmer. The girls are teachers, doctors, 
nurses, office ivorkers, hbrarians, artists, decorators, architects, 
actresses, musicians, dancers The genius girls show less desire 
to follow a career than the gemus bo^T. About half the girls are 
married and follow the conventional American cultural pattern. 
Both boj's and girls marry people whose intelligence scores 
about 25 points lower than their own. 

Now comes the amazmg part of Dr Terman’s study. Of his 
group of geniuses 25 per cent have made a far greater success 
in life than the rest. Fiftj' per cent have done moderately ivell 
and 25 per cent have done verj' badly. The men in the top 
quarter earn two and one-third times as much as those in the 
bottom quarter. The^* have married earlier, their wives are 
more intelhgent and their divorce rate is only one-thurd as 
high - all indications of successful li\Tng. The bottom quarter 
contains men in humble situations -policeman, carpenter, filling- 
station attendant, shop-walker. Here is an astonishing difference 
betiveen two groups of high-scoring children, of equal intelli- 
gence bj’ test, starting life side by side. 

Dr Terman’s investigators foimd one important explanation 
in the home environment and the personality it produces in a 
child. In the top group nearly 57 per cent had fathers who were 
professional men able to earn enough money to gi\e their 
children stable and peaceful environment. The members of the 
bottom group often came from homes where there was m- 
securitv, poverty' and unhappiness. Manv of the parents were 
foreign bom, struggling with an ahen culture. Their genius 
children w ere held down by environment. 

Dr Miles, summing up the facts about her 300 geniuses, 
found characteristics common to nearly all They came from 
‘good stock’, with a fairly high intelhgence among the parents. 
Most of them had security , affection and imderstanding m early 
life. Genius, Dr Miles found, is almost umversally kind, trast- 
worthy, conscientious, persistent, physically and mentally 
active, modest, not eager for pleasure, cool tempered. Genius is 
as much above the commonalty of mankind in these traits as it 
is in intelligence. 

"What do the researches of Dr Terman and Dr Miles reveal 



248 reader’s digest omnibus 

that is useful to society? They show us that while high intelh- 
gence is chiefly accident of birth, we can by proper training turn 
a potential genius into an actual one, whose gifts are useful to 
mankind. The most important factors m bringmg this about are, 
first, incentive - livmg in a society that wants and appreciates 
great ability - and, second, a sense of reassurance and security 
from the earhest days. It is now scientifically proved that genius 
does not need to be maladjusted, as was commonly supposed 
‘Artistic temperament’ is the attitude of the spoiled child 
carried over into adult life by a high-strung, gifted individual 
who discovers he can get away with it. He might be more of a 
genius without his tantrums. 

The lesson is plain, and important. We need these rare 
one-in-a-hundred-thousand mmds. We need to improve our 
machinery for finding such individuals, and to care for them. 
Evidence disproves the theory that great abihties thrive on 
insecurity, unhappiness and fear. Wfiien they appear to it is 
because the individual surmounts the obstacles. 

This is not to say that a reasonable amount of poverty and 
sharp disciplme are hot desirable; the lives of many great men 
suggest that they are. Poverty is not necessanly identical with 
insecunty. 

What is true of the geniuses applies also to the rest of us. Both 
the intelhgence and the personahty of the average man function 
far better under favourable conditions. This may seem a truism, 
but It IS only halfreahsed by parents, teachers, and correctional 
institutions Science has now given us the final and urgent 
reason why we should put our collective brains to work and 
give the maximum amount of traimng, useful experience, 
security and a sense of power and success to all the rising 
generation. 




Many a woman who can’t add can certainly distract . . . 
Some women take the diaper as others take the veil. • . . 
She has not only the seal of his approval, but the mink 
also . . . She’s the sort of bndge partner who calls a spade 
two spades. 




SURGERY IN A SUBMARINE 

Condensed from The Chicago Daily Xews 
GEORGE WELLER 

‘They are givmg him ether now/ they whispered back in die 
aft torpedo rooms. ‘He’s gone under and they’re gettmg ready 
to cut him open ’ 

One man went fonvard. ‘Keep her steady, Jake,’ he said to 
the man handhng the bow diving planes. ‘They've just made 
the first cut. The^re feeling around for it now ’ 

‘They* were a httle group of men with their arms thrust into 
reversed p)jama coats Gauze bandages hid all expression 
except the tensit}' in their eyes. ‘Id was an acute appendix 
inside Dean Rector of Chautauqua, Kansas The stabbing pains 
had become unendurable the day before, w'hich was Rector’s 
birthday. He was ig. 

The big depth gauge that looks like a factory clock showed 
where they were. They were below the surface Above them 
were enemy w'aters crossed and recrossed by the whirring 
propellers of Jap destroyers. 

The nearest naval surgeon w as thousands of miles away. There 
was just one way to prevent the appendix fi"om burstmg and 
that was for the creiv to operate upon their shipmate themselves 
And that’s what they did. 

The chief surgeon was a 23-year-old pharmacist’s mate, 

F%rsi p^tshid tn FUaieft 2>t;£sf tn l&tS 


249 





reader’s digest omnibus 


250 

^NTieeler Lipes, from New Castle, Virginia, who had served 
three years m the Philadelphia naval hospital. His speciality 
was operating a machine that registers heartbeats, but he had 
seen naval doctors take out one or two appendices. 

There was difficulty about the ether. Below the surface, 
pressure inside a boat is above the atmospheric pressure. More 
ether is absorbed under pressure. They did not know how long 
the operation would last or whether there would be enough 
ether to keep the patient under. 

They decided to operate on the table in the officers’ wardroom, 
which in the roomiest American submarine is approximately 
the size of a railway sleeping compartment. It is flanked by 
bench seats attached to the %valls and the table occupies the 
whole room - you enter with knees already bent to sit down 
The table was just long enough so that the patient’s feet did 
not hang over. 

It was probably the most democratic surgical operation ever 
performed. Everybody from box-plane man to the cook in the 
galley knew his role. The cook pro\'ided the ether mask — an 
inverted tea strainer covered with gauze. The young surgeon 
had as his staff of fellow physicians men his senior in age and 
rank. His anaesthetist was Lieutenant Franz Hoskins, com- 
munications officer. 

Before they carried Rector to the wardroom, the submarine 
captain. Lieutenant Commander W. B. Ferrall of Pittsburgh, 
asked Lipes to have a talk with the patient. ‘Look, Dean,’ said 
Lipes, ‘I never did anything like this before. You don’t have 
much of a chance to pull through, anyhow. What do you say^’ 

‘I know how it is, Doc,’ said Rector. ‘Let’s get going.’ 

It was the first time m his life that anybody had called Lipes 
‘Doc’. 

The operating staff adjusted gauze masks and members of 
the engine-room crew pulled tight their reversed pyjama coats 
The tools laid out were far from perfect or complete for a major 
operation. The scalpel, for instance, had no handle. But 
submariners are used to ‘rigging’ thmgs. The medicine chest 
had plenty of haemostats - small pincers used for closing blood- 
vessels - and the machinist rigged a handle for the scalpel from 
one of these. 

They ground up sulphanilamide tablets to use as an antiseptic. 



SURGERY IN A SUBMARINE 


251 

But there was no means of holding open the wound after the 
incision had been made Surgical tools used for this are called 
‘muscular retractors’. Nothmg m the medicine chest gave the 
answer, so they got some soft-metal tablespoons from the 
galley. They bent these at right angles and had their retractors 

Stenhsers^ They went to one of the greasy copper-coloured 
torpedoes waiting beside the tubes, milked alcohol ftom the 
torpedo mechanism and used it as weU as boiling water. 

The moment for the operation had come Rector, very pale, 
stretched himself out on the table. 

Rubber gloves dipped m torpedo juice were drawn upon the 
youthful Doc’s hands. The fingers were too long. The rubber 
ends dnbbled limply over. ‘You look like Mickey Mouse, Doc,’ 
said one onlooker 

Lipes gnnned behind the gauze He looked into his assistant’s 
eyes, nodded, and Hoskms put the mask down over Rector’s 
face 

The surgeon, folloivmg the ancient hand rule, put his httle 
finger on Rector’s umbilicus, his thumb on the point of the hip 
bone and, droppmg his mdex finger straight down, found the 
point where he intended to cut. 

At his side stood his assistant surgeon, Lieutenant Norvell 
Ward, whose job was to place tablespoons in Rector’s side as 
Lipes cut through successive layers of muscles. Engmeering 
officer Lieutenant Charles S. Mannmg was what is knoivn in 
formal operating rooms as ‘circulating nurse’. He saw that 
packets of sterile dressings kept coming and that the torpedo 
alcohol and boding water arrived regularly from the g^ley. 
Skipper Ferrall was ‘recorder’. It was his job to keep count of 
the sponges and tablespoons that went into Rector. 

It took Lipes nearly 20 minutes to find the appendix ‘I have 
tried one side of the caecum,* he whispered after the first few 
minutes ‘Now I’m trymg the other ’ 

Whispered bulletins seeped back to the engine room and the 
crew’s quarters ‘The Doc has tried one side of somethmg and 
now is trying the other side.’ 

After further search, Lipes whispered, ‘I think I’ve got it. It’s 
curled way mto the bhnd gut.’ 

Now his shipmate’s life was completely in his hands 

‘Two more sponges.’ 


reader’s digest omnibus 


252 

‘Two sponges at 1445 hours,’ wrote the ^Skipper on his 
note-pad. 

‘More flashlights and another battle lantern,’ demanded 
Lipes. 

The patient’s face began to grimace. ‘More ether,’ ordered 
the Doc. 

Hoskms looked doubtful. The ether was running low. But 
once again the gauze was soaked. The fumes mounted, making 
the staff giddy. 

Finally came the moment when the Doc pointed towards the 
needle threaded with 20-day chromic catgut. One by one the 
sponges and tablespoons came out. The Skipper nudged Lipes 
and pointed to the tally, one spoon was missing. Lipes reached 
into the incision for the last time, withdrew the spoon and 
closed the incision. He cut the thread with a pair of nail 
scissors. Just then the last can of ether went dry. 

They carried Rector to a bunk. Half an hour later he opened 
his eyes and said, ‘I’m stiU in there pitching.’ 

It had taken the amateurs about two and one half hours for 
an operation ordinarily requiring 45 minutes ‘It was not one 
of those “snappy valve” appendixes,’ Lipes said apologetically. 

Thirteen days later. Rector was again manmng the battie 
phones And in a bottle on the submarine’s shelves swayed the 
first appendix ever knoivn to have been removed below enemy 
waters. 




WHAT IF I HAD REFUSED? 

AGNES ROTHERY 

Commencement Day m any university town is always a time 
of confusion, scheduled events and of expected and not-expected 
visitors On one June day in Charlottesi^le, Virgima, during the 
war, It seemed to me that there had been a greater hubbub than 
usual. The Lawn and the streets were teeming. Boys were 
constantly drifting in and out of our house. Like other professors’ 
homes, ours had always been open to the students, and although 

Firrf published m ‘The Seadet's Digest" in 1947 



WHAT IF I HAD REFUSED? 


253 

I wasn’t good at remembering tbeir names I was always glad to 
see them. 

I had recently ■\vritten a book about the Umversity of 
Vmginia, and our home and hfe there. Many former students, 
familiar with the house and garden, had brought copies of 
A Fitting Habitation to be autographed, and parents had sent 
copies asking me to -write a word m each before they mailed it 
to sons overseas. While all this %vas deeply gratifying, still it 
lengthened my already crowded worldng hours 

On Commencement Day the number of casual callers had 
reached an all-time high, and I had barely had time to get 
ready for the ceremony My husband was in the car, honking 
for me to hurr)'. I was just about to rush out of the house when 
the telephone rang and a woman’s voice asked me if I would 
autograph a copy of my book for her She said that she and her 
husband had motored from Montana; they would have to leave 
I immediately after the Commencement exercises, and that this 
would be their only chance to catch me. They said they were 
only a few blocks from our home. 

My first impuke was to shout ‘No’ and slam down the receiver, 
but somehow I muted my exasperation and rephed, rather 
coldly, that if they would come at once I would see them. Then 
I himg up, telhng myself I was an idiot to let myself be thus 
imposed upon 

My husband had to play the organ at the exercises so I sent 
him on his -way, telhng him that I’d come later in a taxi. But 
at busy hours in our toivn one often cannot get a taxi at all, and 
I pictured myself trailmg down the hot road in my white 
shppers and long dress, and am-vmg dusty, angry and con- 
spicuously late. 

Then I waited in our doorway until a Montana car appeared 
and a prettily dressed woman and a tall man wth a tanned and 
tired face got out. They were a typical American middle-aged 
couple, ob-viously prosperous but qmte unpretentious. They 
mtroduced themselves as Mi: and Mrs Graham 

INTien I had greeted them and led them mto the Uving room 
they stood for a moment quite still and frankly surveyed the 
room, then went over to the open door and looked out mto the 
garden. Their scrutiny was so absorbed that in spite of my 
impatience I let a few moments pass irithout speaking. 



reader’s digest omnibus 


254 

Finally the man turned to me and handed me a copy of 
my book. ‘My wife and I would appreciate it if you would 
wnte your name m it,’ he said. ‘Our son often told us about 
coming, to your charmmg house, and we wanted to see it 
ourselves.’ 

‘We have spent all day going over the University,’ added his 
wife. ‘We have seen Jack’s room, and the library, the athletic 
grounds, his classrooms - everything.’ 

‘What would you like me to write in the book^’ I asked 
patiently, taking up my pen. 

‘Just his name -Jack Graham -and yours, if you please,’ 
said the man. 

I did this and handed him the book, wondering nervously how 
much longer they would linger, and wondering why they 
seemed so reluctant to take their leave. 

‘Is your son graduating?’ I asked. 

‘Our son would have graduated today,’ said the man in his 
quiet voice. ‘He was killed a year ago at Saipan.’ 

‘So we came to attend his Commencement, to see all the 
places here that he loved so much - especially your home,’ said 
the woman. 

Now it was I who had not a word to say. Tears came to my 
eyes and rolled down my cheeks. I gulped awkwardly and said, 
‘Here I am crying, and you two are perfectly calm'’ 

‘We -we finished our crying a long time ago,’ said the 
woman simply. 

I was still blinded with tears as I walked with them to their 
car, but it was with steady voices that they thanked me again 
and said goodbye. 

As I watched the car move down the drive I could picture 
them in the amphitheatre, looking doivn at the dark-capped 
heads of the graduating class packed in the front rows. They 
would see the long line pass slowly up to the platform where 
each student would receive his diploma. They would watch it 
all with dry eyes, and although the hne would be closely filled 
they would see one place in it which was empty. 

Then suddenly, like a violent physical impact, a terrible 
thought gnpped me: 

What if, when I had answered the telephone, / had 
said 'Mo I’ 




THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE 

Condensed from The TaU Remew 
H. L MENCKEN 

The first Engbshman to notice an Amencamsm sneered at it 
aloofly, thus setting a fashion that many of his countrymen have 
been following ever since. He was one Francis Moore, a ruflian 
who came to Georgia in 1735, and the word that upset him was 
bluff, in the sense of ‘a chfl or headland with a broad precipitous 
face’. He did not deign to argue against it, he simply dismissed 
It as ‘barbarous’, and for nearly a century, when it was printed 
at all in Great Britain, it was set off by sanitary quotation marks 
But, in 1830, the eminent Sir Charles Lyell used it shamelessly 
and from that day to this it has been a respectable if somewhat 
unfamiliar word in England 

Its history is the history of almost countless other Amen- 
canisms They have been edging their way into English since 
early colonial times, but only after running a gauntlet of opposi- 
tion After the Revolution, that opposition took on the proportions 
of a holy war. Never an American book came out that the 
English reviewers did not belabour its vocabulary violently. 
Even serious writers like Jefferson, John Marshall, NoahAVebster, 
and John Quincy Adams got their share Jefferson’s crime was 
that he had invented the verb to belittle It was, one may argue 
plausibly, a very logical, useful, and perhaps even mfty word, 
and 75 years later the pnssy Anthony Trollope was employing 
it wthout apology. But in 1787 The London Remew roared. 
‘'WTiat an expression' It may be an elegant one in Virginia, but 
all we can do is to guess at its mcamng For shame, Mr Jefferson' 
Freely we forgive your attacks upon our national character; 
but for (he future spare, we beseech you, our mother tongue'’ 

The underscolang of guess was a fling in passing at another 
foul Americanism It was the bebef of most Englahmen then, 
as It is today, that the use of the verb in the sense of to suppose or 
assume originated in this country. It is actually to be found, in 

Ftrsi pvhtfsked in Tf Readers Dtgesf w 1936 


255 



reader’s digest omnibus 


256 

that meaning precisely, in Measure for Measure; nay, m Chaucer. 
To advocate offers another example. It appeared in English in 
the dark backward and abysm of time, but during the eighteenth 
century it seems to have dropped out of general use. Towards 
the end of the century it came into vogue in this country, and 
soon made its way back to the land of its birth. It was received 
with all the honours proper to an invasion of Asiatic cholera, 
the reviews denouncing it as loutish, ‘Gothic’, and against God. 

The heroic struggle to keep Americanisms out of Britain still 
flourishes. A few years ago the Rt Rev Cyril Henry Gelding- 
Bird, Assistant Bishop of Guildford and Archdeacon of Dorking, 
was charged before the Famham (Surrey) magistrates \vith 
applying speed-cop to a member of the mobile police. He denied 
■with some heat that he had used the term, or an-ything else 
so unseemly, but the magistrates apparently concluded that he 
must have let it slip, for they took a serious view of his very 
modest adventure in speeding, fined him ;^io, and suspended 
his driving licence for three months. 

Wflienever an Americanism comes publicly into question in 
England, there are efibrts to track down its etymology, with 
results that are sometimes extremely bizarre. In January 1935, 
for example, the London Morning Post opened its columns to a 
furious discussion of the verb-phrase, to get his goat. I content 
myself with one of the explanations. ‘Among the Negroes in 
Harlem it is the custom for each household to keep a goat to act 
as general scavenger. Occasionally one man will steal another’s 
goat, and the household debris then accumulates to the general 
aimoyance.’ The truth is that to get his goat seems to be of 
French origin, and in the form oi prendre sa chivre has been traced 
back to the year 1585. 

Occasionally, of course, genuine Amencanisms are claimed 
as really English. In 1934 even the learned Dr G. T. Onions,"^ 
one of the editors of the great Oxford Dictionary, succumbed to 
the madness by ofiering to find m the dictionary any alleged 
Americanism that a reporter for the London Evening Mews could 
name. The reporter began discreetly with fresh (m the sense of 
saucy), to figure (in -the sense of to believe or conclude), and to gnll 
(in the sense of to question), and Dr Onions duly found them all. 
But when the reporter proceeded to rake-off, the editor had to 
admit that the earliest example in the dictionary was irom an 



THE AMERICAN LANGUAGE 257 

Amencan work, and when boloney and nerts were hurled at him 
he blew up wth a bang. 

In the modem Enghshman there seems to be very little of 
that ecstasy iri word-makmg which so prodigiously engrossed 
his Elizabethan forebears Shakespeare alone probably put more 
new words into circulation than all the English writers since 
Carlyle, and they were much better ones. The ideal over there 
today is not picturesque and eidularating utterance, but correct 
and reassuring utterance. At its best it shoivs excellent manners 
and even a kind of melhfluous elegance, indeed, the English, 
taking one ivith another, may be said to ivrite much better than 
we do. But what they ivnte is seldom animated by anything 
properly descnbable as bounce. It lacks novelty, vanety, audacity. 

Herein lies the fundamental reason for the mtroduction of so 
many Americanisms mto British English. They are adopted in 
England simply because England has nothing so apt or pungent 
to offer in competition irith them. His Reverence of Guildford 
did not apply speed-cop to the mobile policeman as a voluntary act 
of subversion ; he let it shp for the reason that it was an irresistibly 
apposite and satisfying term 

Confronted by the same novelty, Americans always manage 
to fetch up a name for it that not only describes it but also 
illummates it, whereas the English, since the Elizabethan stimu- 
lant oozed out of them, have been content merely to catalogue 
it. There ivas a bnlhant exemphfication of the two approaches 
in the early days of railways. The Enghsh called the wedge- 
shaped fender that was put in front of the first locomotives a 
plough, which was almost exactly what it was, but the Americans 
gave It the bold and racy appellation of cow-catcher For the 
casting which gmdes the whe^ from one rail to another the 
Enghsh coined the depressingly obvious name of crossing-plate, 
the Americans, setting their imaginations free, called it 
^fiog 

The American rrwvte is much better than the English cinema; 
so is radio much better than wireless, though it may be Latin, 
and shock absorber vastly better than anti-bounce clip, and bouncer 
than chucker-out, and chain store than multiple shop. Confronting 
the immensely Amencan rubberneck. Dr J. Y. T. Greig of New- 
castle could only exclaim ‘one of the best words ever coined!’ 
And in the face of lounge lizard, Horace Annesley VacheU fell 



258 reader’s digest omnibus 

silent like Sir Isaac Newton on the seashore, overwhelmed by 
the solemn grandeur of the linguistic universe. 

One finds m current American all the characters and tendencies 
that marked the nch English of Shakespeare’s time - an eager 
borro\vingfrom other languages, a bold and often very ingenious 
use of metaphor, and a fine disdain of the barricades separating 
the parts of speech. "We had already a large repertory of 
synonyms for jail, but when the word hoosegow precipitated 
Itself from the Spanish somewhere along the Rio Grande 

it won quick currency. Bummer, coming in from the German, is 
now clipped to bum. Buncombe, borrowed by the English as 
bunkum, has bred bunco and bunk and to debunk at home. 

There are constant complaints in the English newspapers 
about the appearance of lawless American novelties in the 
parliamentary debates, and in discourses from the sacred desk. 
They begin to show themselves also in belles-lettres^ They even 
pop up in the diatribes that revile them; the Englishman, con- 
quered at last, can no longer protest against Americanisms 
without using them. If only because of the greater weight of the 
population behind it, the American form of English seems 
destined to usurp the natural leadership of British English, and 
to determine the general course of the language hereafter. But 
its chief advantage in this struggle is the fact that its daring 
experiments he in the grand tradition of English, and are signs 
of its incurable normalcy and abounding vigour. 

THE 

MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER 

I’VE MET 

AUSTIN STRONG 

I CAN see her now - a small woman in a blue dress, sitting 
barefoot on the roof of the after-cabin of a trading schooner in 
the South Seas. Her Panama hat, set at a rakish angle, shades 
a face of breathtaking beauty. She is holding a large silvered 

Ftrit publtshed tn 'The 'Rtsdei's DizesT tn 1946 



THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE^CHARAGTER I’VE MET 259 

revolver in each hand, shootmg sharia wth deadly accuracj- as 
they are caught aud hauled to the tafiTrail by excited sailors. 

Recently Booth Tarkington MTote me: *I once \\-alked across 
the lobby of the Claypool Hotel m Indianapohs wth her. The 
proprietor of the hotel cigar-stand came exatedly at me after 
I’d put her in the elevator, and said, “Excuse me, Mr Tarking- 



ton, but, my God, tvho was that?” Effect of, \isibly, a personage' 
Indeed she was a personage, yet she %\as httle known to the 
world because she shunned the limehght. 

Infinitely feminine, self-effacing and gentle, nevertheless she 
gave the impression of holding a secret power not to be trifled 
w^th 'ISTien her Scotch husband took her to Edinburgh to meet 
his parents for the first time, he warned her that his father, a 
famous engineer and designer of lighthouses, w'as an uncom- 
promising Calvmist who ruled his household with an iron hand 
She knew that she had to face a difficult situation, for the old 
man had disapproved of his son’s marrying a woman who was 
not only an American but W’as divorced But when they met 
face to face, the dour old Scot w’as completely captured by her 
beauty and astomshed to find a character as strong as his own 

At dinner that first evenmg, findmg the roast overdone, he 
lost his temper and shouted at the maids, cnnkhng in their 
starched aprons. His daughter-in-law’ rose from her chair, her 
face white and her eyes big wuth wTath, for nothing roused her 
fur}’- more than injustice. ‘You are a spoiled old man,’ she said 



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in a voice like water running under ice. ‘You are taking a cruel 
advantage of these helpless people who cannot answer back. If 
you ever again raise your voice against these faithful women I 
shall instantly leave this house and never set foot in it as long 
as I hve>’ 

Nonplussed, the old man stared at her in admiration. ‘Sit ye 
doon, lassie,’ he said, laughing. ‘I see ye’re a stormy petrel*’ 
From then on peace reigned and he followed her like a tamed 
and devoted lion. 

Her blood was rich with the ivine of courage which she 
inherited from her sturdy forebears - nine generations of Ameri- 
can pioneers on both sides of her family. Her father, Jacob, 
descended from the Dutch line bearing the honoured name 
of Van de Gnft. He settled in the then backwoods toivn of 
Indianapolis, Indiana, where he built his house with his oivn 
hands, grew up ivith the thriving city and became a prosperous 
lumber merchant. Her father’s friend Henry Ward Beecher 
baptized his daughter, christemng her Frances Matilda. 

After the failure of her first marriage, Fanny Van de Gnft 
fell in love and married a young unknown wnter who was ill of 
tuberculosis. She knew instinctively that he was a true genius 
and that if she could but keep him alive she would give to the 
world an immortal name. From then on for many years her hfe 
was one long battle with the dark reaper, spent for ever wander- 
ing about the world seeking a climate which would bnng her 
husband health. 

She fought a losing fight m many lands until advised to get 
him on salt water and keep him there. Then with desperate 
courage she took him to sea, enduring years of exile from 
civilisation, bearing the responsibility of nursing him far away 
from medical care as they wandered, m all kinds of ships, on 
the vast, then uncharted Pacific. They sailed doivn through the 
Dangerous Archipelago, the Marshalls, the Marquesas and the 
Gilberts, daring hurricanes, savages and shipwreck. 

A sensitive woman, she once had to live on a tiny trading 
schooner \\'ith 15 men, exposed to a pitiless lack of privacy, 
sleeping in the leaking after-cabin crowded \vith wet human 
beings, fighting monster cockroaches bent on eating off her 
eyebro^vs as she snatched at sleep between the squalls which 
threatened to capsize the tiny craft. 



THE MOST UXFORGETTABLE CHARACTER l’\nE MET 261 

She slept on the floor beside her husband’s berth to be ready 
in an instant to minister to him from a vial of medicme she kept 
m the bosom of her dress. The Chinese cook often stepped on 
her as he staggered across the tumbhng cabin to tend his 
dancing pots and pans. l\Tien meraless tropic rain leaked 
through the cabin roof she held an umbrella over her sleeping 
husband and many a time she was roused to give first-aid to an 
injured sailor, cutting the clotted hair from a bleedmg head or 
binding a ram-soaked bandage round a smashed hand. 

In spite of all these hardships she took heart, for she could 
see that the mvahd was slowly regmning a measure of health 
Someone saw her sitting on the foredcck of a sading vessel one 
beautiful mommg, watching her husband standmg barefoot far 
out on the plunging boivsprit, laughing excitedly as he tried to 
spear darting fish. After years of lonely idgils in darkened rooms 
she sau him now on his feet, a man of action, and for an mstant 
tears filled her eyes. She had won through to \actory. 

I knew her best in paradise, where I had the good fortune to 
share the last years of their life together. Home from the sea at 
last, their lonely wanderings came to an end on the beautiful 
island of Upolu m the Samoan Archipelago where the benefi- 
cent climate held out great promise for the health of her husband 
There they lived among the gracious Samoan people, whom he 
called ‘God’s best, hzs sweetest work.’ 

They built a large house m a clearing of the primseval forest 
surrounded by giant trees bearing ferns and bnlhant coloured 
orchids in their forks, the air wtis si\eetened by wild limes, 
firangipam blossoms, ilang-ilang, and all the fragrant and lovely 
flow'ers that grow in the jungle Here we dwelt at the foot of a 
wooded mountain alive with bird song and the music of five 
mountain torrents tumbhng headlong in their frantic haste to 
reach the Pacific, which we could see three miles below' us over 
descending treetops, a blue infinity spread across the skj'. 

Fanny Van de Gnft’s pioneer blood beat faster w'hen they 
bought 400 acres of cool, \irgin forest, 600 feet above the 
sivdtering town of Apia on the beach Her husband was occupied 
with his writing, and it was she who took complete command of 
drawing the plans for the new home and superintendmg the 
buildmg. She was a bom architect. 

These w’ere the happiest four years of their hfe together. 



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While the house was being built it was a deh'ght to watch her 
directing the labourers, scaling high ladders, standing on sway- 
ing scaffoldings - a tiny figure always dressed in blue, and 
always wth a smart tilt to her Panama hat. Her mere presence 
stimulated her devoted Samoan workmen to greater efforts. 

Tall, slim, half-naked giants with the figures of young Greek 
gods, flowered wreaths about their necLc, their close-cut hair 
pow'dercd w'hite with slack lime, these gay youths were a hand- 
some sight. A leader would suddenly lift his voice improvising a 
song to her as he led a chanting chorus, the singers keeping 
time as they w'orked tvith their saw's and their hammers. - 

‘Let us build this palace for our High Chief Lady, for is she 
not as beautiful as the little flying cloud which skims the sea’s 
horizon at dawn^ Take warmng, you who are lazy, she hath 
eyes round her lovely head; she is to be obeyed.’ She was com- 
pletely unaware of the compliments they were singing to her 
for she never mastered their language. This they knew and 
considered a huge joke, making the forest echo with their 
memment. 

WTiile the work was going on they lived a Swiss Family 
Robinson life in a small, hastily-built shack. ‘Among my dresses,* 
she wTote a fiiend, ‘hang bridle straps; on the camphorwood 
trunk which serves as my dressing-table, beside my comb and 
toothbrush, is a collection of carpenter’s tools. On the walls 
hang a carved spear, a revolver, stnngs of teeth of fish, beasts 
and human beings, and necklaces made of shells. My little 
cot-bed seems to have got into its place by mistake.’ 

She devised a small reservoir around a spring on the side of 
our mountain and piped water down a quarter of a milfe to the 
house, freeing us from depending upon rain captured in tanks 
from our corrugated iron roof. Though Samoans did the actual 
labour for her she worked wath the best of them, and on one 
occasion I remember her laughing as she asked me to rub and 
unlock her fingers made stiff by cementing the retaimng wall of 
the reservoir. 

Fanny was a woman of contradictions. Curiously timid before 
strangers, she faced terrifying dangers with quiet courage, help- 
lessly appealing, she had the gift of command, and was the kind 
of person everyone turned to in an emergency. She could be 
stem and severe when the occasion called for those qualities. 



THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER I’VE MET 263 

but her favourite saying was. ‘To know all is to forgive all.’ A 
fearless horsewoman, a first-rate shot, an author of distinction, 
a sailor, a scientific gardener, a miraculous cook and an extra- 
ordinary nurse. Loyalty was her shmmg trait and she v\ould 
cling through good and evil report to those she loved. No 
wonder a tough sea captain said of her. ‘She’s a great gentleman*’ 

She had an enchanting sense of humour and dearly lov'ed 
badinage. Seldom laughing aloud, shejoined the general hilarity 
with the running accompaniment of a low and breathless 
chuckle. If It be true that our characters can be revealed by 
the fnends we make, hers would be as hard to piece together as 
a Chinese puzzle beachcombers, duchesses, the poet Shelley’s 
son, an ex-saloonkeeper, good King Kalakaua of Hawaii; Cap- 
tain Slocum, who arcumnavigated the globe alone in a small 
boat, saihng 72 days out of his course to call on her in Samoa; 
the novelist Henry James, the sculptor Auguste Rodin; John 
Sargent, who painted her portrait, shy J M. Barrie, the play- 
vmght, who had so little to say to so many, and so much to say 
to her; the terrifying murderous King Tembinoka of Apamama, 
who shot down unruly subjects to keep order on his atoll, and 
who wept copiously when she left after a visit. A San Francisco 
journalist who did not know her, after catching a glimpse of her 
m a crowd, said, ‘I would recognise her m hashes of lightning 
She was the one woman I can imagine a man being willing to 
die for.’ 

I love to remember a Thanksgiving dinner when Vailima - 
tis they called their home - was finally estabhshed. The beautiful 
funuture and silver had been brought from Scotland I can see 
the big living-room, 60 by 30 feet, its pohshed redwood walls 
hung with paintings by Sargent and Hogarth. Unknown to us, 
this was to be the last feast when we would all be together To 
my mind it was the culmination, the crowning moment of this 
valiant woman’s life of sacrifice, adventure and romance. 

Dressed in black velvet and point lace, the sparkle from her 
jewels v^ying with the happiness m her eyes, she made a radiant 
figure at the foot of the long table ablaze vvTth silver candelabra, 
cut crystal and flowers. Her dream had come true, she saw her 
husband browm with health, tall and distinguished in the even- 
ing dress of the tropics, white mess jacket, red sash, and black 
trousers - a gay and brilliant host 



264 reader’s digest omnibus 

The lighted candles glowed on the faces around the table - 
naval officers in their white uniformSj land commissioners, the 
consuls and their wives. Samoan men, weanng the Royal Stuart 
tartan lalted about their loins, hibiscus flowers behind their ears 
and wreaths around their necks, their bro\vn bodies polished 
with coconut oil scented %vith powdered sandalwood, served us 
with quiet digmty. 

This was mdeed a Thanksgiving dinner for her. She saw her 
husband now at the height of his fame, successful and famous 
beyond their dreams. In the decade and a half of their married 
life the author of Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde had 
written over 30 books. For his success he gave her credit m the 
dedication of his last novel: ‘Take thou the writing; thine it is, 
for who burnished the sword, blew on the drowsy coal, held 
still the target higher; chary of praise and prodig^ of counsel 
. . . who but thou?’ 

A few days later her husband, apparently in full health, was 
struck down ‘as if by the gods, in a clear and glorious hour.’ He 
did not die of the disease against which his wife had battled, 
but fi'om a stroke of apoplexy. His coffin was lashed to a long 
saplmg and carried by grave Samoans to the summit of the 
mountain he loved so well, and there he was buried. 

A few nights later I happened to come around the verandah 
and drew back as I caught a glimpse of Fanny Van de Gnft 
Stevenson - my grandmother. She was standing in the moon- 
light, looking up at the forest-covered mountain where her 
husband lay ‘under the wide and starry sky’. They had been 
together for 14 short years. 

It was fitting that Robert Louis Stevenson should be buned 
on a mountain peak and that his wife should join him there 20 
years later, with his immortal tribute to her inscribed in bronze 
upon the tomb they share together: 

Teacher, tender comrade, wife, 

A fellovu-farer true through life. 

Heart-whole and soul-free; 

The August Father gave to me. 



TILLIE SCRUBBED ON 


Drama in Everyday Life 

WILLIAM F. MCDERMOTT AND KARL DETZER 

When pretty, dark-eyed Terry Colangelo went to work as a 
cub reporter on the GUcago Daily Times three years ago, one of 
City Editor Karin Walsh’s instrucDons to her was: ‘Read everj' 
word in the Times, every day.’ 

Terry did — and on the afternoon of lo October 1944 she 
found Chicago’s story of the year in three lines of small tj'pe 
among the classified advertisements. Circling the terse announce- 
ment with black crayon, she placed it on 'Walsh’s desk* 

§5,000 reward for killers of OflScer Lundy on g December 

1932. Gall Gro. 1758, 12-7 p m. 

‘Might be a story behind it,’ she suggested. 

"Walsh agreed, and called reporter Jim McGuire, who had 
once been a detecDve and ivho had dug out some difficult 
crime stories for the Timer. ‘Fmd what this is all about,’ ^Valsh 
directed. 

McGuire went to work ‘The ad was placed by a woman 
named Tiliie Majczek,’ he reported shortly. ‘Her son, Joe, was 
convicted of killing this copper 1 1 years ago. He’s serving 99 
years in Joliet prison.’ 

‘Find out where the woman got the five grand,’ 'Walsh said. 
‘Maybe there’s a feature story m it ’ 

There was. In a few weeks it had all Chicago talking. 

’ISTien reporter McGuire went to sec Tillie that October 
afternoon he found her in the kitchen of her drab httlc house in 
the smok)*, raucous district behind the Chicago stockyards ‘I’m 
firom the Times’ McGuire said. ‘I came about your ad ' 

Before him stood a short woman, spare and muscular, streaks 
of white were beginning to make chalk marks on her black hair. 
Age accentuated her high Slavic cheekbones, and her shoulders 
were stooped, obviously from hard work 

F^TSi pullxaJteS *n ReaStT^s Digest* m l&tS 


265 



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‘Sit,’ she bade McGuire, and then sat doivn across the 
kitchen table from him, speaking slowly as she searched for the 
English words. 

‘Joe good boy,’ she said. ‘Joe don’t kill nobody.’ 

Did she have any proof? McGuire asked. No, she said, only 
the same proof which the jury had refused to believe in the 
trial. That was why she had advertised - to find out who 
murdered Patrolman Lundy, and thus prove that her Joe could 
not have been guilty. She was ready to pay $5,000 for the 
truth. 

‘How did you raise the money?’ McGuire asked. 

‘I scrub floors,’ TiUie answered. ‘In office building down town, 
at night. For 1 1 years. Ever since my boy Joe is gone.’ 

Tilhe’s husband worked in the stockyards, she said. He was 
often laid off, and she knew she could not depend on his pay 
envelope to purchase the truth that would set Joe free. So she 
took the only kind of job she could get. She worked eight hours 
a night, six nights a week, on her hands and knees, scrubbing 
floors in an office bmlding Eleven years she had scrubbed- 
3,500 weary nights. Acres of marble floor, oceans of soapy 
water, years of backache and heartache Yet her courage had 
never wavered. It took a lot of scrubbing for Tillie to make 
enough to save $5,000, but now she had the money. 

‘Has anybody answered the ad?’ McGuire asked. 

Tilhe shook her head. She said she had tried before, with 
$3,500, and no one had answered that ad, either. Justice, she 
was discovering could be an expensive luxury. 

Back in his office, McGuire told Walsh what he had learned. 
It would make a mce feature for the paper, \Valsh agreed. But 
the story wasn’t complete. 

‘Any chance the kid really wasn’t guilty?’ he asked. 

McGuire said : ‘That’s what I’m wondering. The old lady is 
sure he’s innocent.’ 

‘Better check up on that angle, too,’ "Walsh decided. ‘If the 
kid’s had a raw deal, let’s set him free.’ 

For ten and a half months McGuire and another Times 
reporter. Jack McPhaul, dug up hidden evidence, scoured the 
to%vn and the nation for witnesses to this long-forgotten crime. 
They had to overcome the shck manoeuvrings of shabby 
politicians who did not want the case revived. 



TILLIE SCRUBBED ON 267 

Meanwhile, Tilhe scrubbed on. Everj’ ■week she put her 
earnings in the bank. And w'hile she scrubbed, McGuire and 
McPhaul dug for facts and the Tiims printed diem. 

The sordid storj' began on the afternoon of 9 December 1932. 
The foreign quarter behind the yards was a rash of illegal bars. 
One of them on South Ashland Avenue ivas run by a frowsy, 
middle-aged blonde named Vera. At 2.45 on that afternoon 
Patrolman WTlIiam D. Lundy, just off duty, stepped into the 
ilheit bar-room and ordered a drink. Vera served him. There 
was one other customer in the dmgy back room Lundy and the 
customer talked about Vera’s foolish habit of keeping several 
thousand dollars concealed in her ice-box. The whole neigh- 
bourhood knew the money was there. Some day . . . 

At that moment tivo tall men stepped into the room with 
guns in their hands. They were startled to find a poheeman 
there. Lundy had his overcoat on, and his pistol was hard to get 
at. As he reached for it the men shot him and fled, leavmg him 
dying. 

This was the year before the opening of the Chicago 'World’s 
Fair, and Mayor Anton Cermak, distressed at his at/s shabby 
reputation, ordered a clean-up. There was hue and cry back 
of the yards that afternoon. Detectives swarmed through the 
streets, questioned informers hunted dovra known gunmen, 
belaboured all witnesses. 

On that day Tdlie Majezek’s son, Joe, a machinist’s helper, 
was at his home, a mile from Vera s bar. He had not gone to 
w'ork because his i\dfe, Helen, was about to have a baby. First 
he did the housework for her; then some coal which he had 
ordered arrived at 2.30, and at 2 45 he was still shoielhng it 
into his cellar. Three neighbours testified to this at the trial. 

But Joe and his wife had made one mistake They knew 
nothing about the murder and the frantic police search, so 
when an old acquaintance knocked on their door that night and 
said he was ‘in trouble’, they let him spend the night in their 
home. What’s more, they told neighbours that the man had 
been there - and some neighbour told the police. 

Joe did not answer the descnption of cither of the gunmen, 
he was too small, too shght Two men who had seen the fleeing 
murderers said positively that he ivas not one of them. Vera also 
stated that Joe was not involved; but later, after a private talk 



268 reader’s digest omnibus 

/ 

%vith the pohce, she changed her story and said Joe was one of 
the killers. She, alone, identified him in court. 

The judge who heard the case was not satisfied; he called 
each of the witnesses back and questioned them. McGuire 
found out that after Joe’s conviction the judge had told his 
family he was convinced that a grave injustice had been done. 
He had worried about it and had planned to try to right the 
wong, but died before he had opportunity to reopen the case. 
So Chicago forgot Joe. 

Joe’s wife used to take their baby to see him in prison and 
Tdhe would go along. Tillie tried to cheer Joe up; she told him 
that as soon as she had earned enough money everything would 
come out all right. Joe was working hard at his prison tasks, and 
was learmng book-keeping and shorthand. 

One day, after five years, Joe’s wife came to see hun alone. 
‘Joe,’ she said, ‘I know you are innocent, but you’ll never get 
out of here. And our child needs a father m the home. A man 
has asked me to marry him and I’m going to get a divorce.’ 

That didn’t seem right to TiUie. Joe had so much to worry 
about without Helen making hfe so much harder for him 
But Tillie didn’t say anything. She just kept on scrubbing. 

The Times reporters pored over the court records. They 
checked the characters of all the witnesses. They found public 
documents which they beheved the police and the state’s 
attorney’s office were trying to conceal. They traced the 
members of the jury which had convicted Joe, and from four of 
them got sworn statements that they would not have convicted 
him if the newly uncovered evidence had been presented at the 
trial. Joe’s old neighbours, still resentful that their honest 
testimony had been brushed aside by a trial prosecutor avid for 
a conviction, were anxious to tell again the truth as they knew it 

The Times employed Leonarde Keeler, inventor of the he 
detector, to take Ins scientific gadgets to the prison and test Joe. 
‘The man is telhng the truth,’ Keeler reported. 

Then the Times engaged a lawyer who marshalled all the 
facts dug out so arduously by the reporters. These facts were so 
convincing that the state pardon board made a top-to-bottom 
investigation, then recommended to the governor that Joe be 
immediately released. 

On 15 August 1945 Joe Majczek walked out of the Johet 



EPIC OF THE ARCTIC 269 

prison gate. Tillie, waiting in the shadow of the tall stone wall, 
threw her arms around her son. She didn’t •v\ecp Joe w-as free, 
\\’asn’t he? 

Jim McGuire took Tillie and Joe to Chicago in a car. Tlicrc 
was a little family party that evemng in the Majezek kitchen. 
Tilhe had prepared all the things Joe liked best. He sat at the 
head of the table and she stood beside him, pihng his plate 
high. Everj'thmg was all right now - her boy was free once 
more 

The Times refused TiUie’s offer of the $5,000, and she is 
keeping it for Joe. He may need it some dav, she says Right 
now, Joe doesn’t need if he has a fine job as secretary' to a 
manufacturer, and is making a new life for himself. 

That IS enough for Tilhe, who has no idea that her long years 
of indomitable faith and drudgery are an epic of silent, shining 
courage 


mi 

EPIC OF THE ARCTIC 

Condensed from True 

RUTH AND EDWARD BRECHER 

Christmas 1881: Twenty-three young soldiers, their faces 
aglow underwell-trimmedbeardSjSatdow’natarough plank table 
burdened with mock turtle soup, salmon, fneasseed guillemot, 
spiced musk-ox tongue, crab salad, eider ducks, assorted \ ege- 
tables, plum pudding with wine sauce, ice cream, fruits, nuts, 
candies and coffee. Afterwards there were carols and good cheer, 
though outdoors the thermometer registered 43 degrees below 
zero. They were as far north as men had ever wintered - less 
than 600 miles from the Pole 

Fivemonths before, the scholarly, audacious young Lieutenant 
Adolphus ^\*ashington Greely had brought this picked Army 
detachment by ship to Lady' Franklin Bay on Ellesmere Island, 
25 miles across the Robeson Channel from Greenland. IVeathcr- 
reporting w’as the primary' purpose of the expedition. Grcely’s 

in Hesin’ji Difesf w 1946 



reader’s digest omnibus 


270 

hourly observation^ of wind, tide, temperature, pressure, mag- 
netism and gravity later gave the first coherent picture of polar 
weather and its crucial role in determimng the weather of the 
temperate zone - and laid the foundations of Arctic meteorology 
which was so important during World VV^ar II. 

- Plans called for a supply vessel to bring the expedition food 
and news in the summer of 1882, and for a rehef ship to carry it 
home in the summer of 1883. 

The 1882 vessel did not come, but the men were not dis- 
heartened. In good health and high spirits, they sledged more 
than 3,000 miles on scientific missions. One party crossed the 
frozen straits to Greenland, and reached the farthest north that 
man had ever penetrated. Another group discovered Hazen 
Valley, an Arctic Shangri-La lush with grass and embroidered 
with gay yellow poppies, where butterflies fluttered, musk-oxen 
grazed peacefully, and long-tailed ducks splashed in limpid 
waters. The expedition established the basic concept of the 
‘Friendly Arctic’ - a region in vrhich men can live in comfort 
if they know how. 

A second year passed, and still no ship reached Lady Franklin 
Bay. Greely was under orders, in such a contingency, to retreat 
southwards some 260 miles to Gape Sabine, where the rehef 
vessel would await him. And should ice force the ship south 
before a rendezvous, it would leave him comfortable winter 
quarters and another year’s supplies. 

So on 9 August 1883, the 23 Americans and two Eskimos 
headed south in the 27-foot steam launch Lady Greely, with three 
oversized rowboats in tow. Their route to the cape was down 
the narrow sound separating Greenland from the great islands 
that he north of the Amencan continent. 

In 1881 the channel had been open and good sailing, in 1882 
frozen and good sledging. Now it was neither; ice floes and 
Arctic slush were churned by wind and current. For 30 days 
the Lady Greely alternately threaded and butted her way through 
the shifting ice. Often she was all but crushed between great 
floebergs. Once her path was entirely barred by a huge paleo- 
crystic floe which soared 50 feet above the surface and extended 
many more below. Then, miraculously, like the Bibhcal parting 
of the waters, the mammoth bamer cracked and Greely’s string 
of cockleshells passed through unscathed. But on 9 September, 



EPIC OF THE ARCTIC 271 

its goal just visible in the distance, the launch reached dead end 
in impenetrable ice. 

Ever resourceful, the men made sledges from the launch’s 
seats, shod them %vith iron hoops firom her boilers, and lashed 
the frame wdth sealskin thongs Loadmg supplies scientific 
instruments and two small boats on the sledges, the little band 
set out across the treacherous ice pack towards Cape Sabine. 
They hauled their three-ton load southwards about a mile a 
day. 

‘To our dismay,’ Greely recorded on 14 September, ‘we 
found that there was a marked movement of the ice pack, which 
drove us farther north in three hours than we had travelled 
south in as many days.’ Later a huge floe which they had taken 
da^'s to cross w'as rotated so that the w'hole weary' way already 
tortuously sledged still lay ahead. 

Now a storm arose, the wind changed and blew a 50-mile 
gale. The ice pack moved rapidly south and great cracks 
appeared. Unless the struggling men could reach shore before 
they drifted into the open w'aters of Baffin Bay, their frozen 
perch would dismtegratc. Every unnecessary pound of gear was 
cast off. Greely ivrote in his diary: ‘We have done our utmost, 
and must now rely on Prosadence * 

Providence, in the form of an immense floeberg, now' loomed 
out of the fog between their floe and land. If they could 
transfer to it, a route to shore would be open. The berg came 
wnthm 50 feet; slush and loose rubble ice prevented a nearer 
approach. 

‘The shghtest movement of either floe,’ Grccly’s diary' records, 
‘would open up the rubble so that the sea would swallow up 
anyone on it. But it offered the only possible means of escape 
One boat, a sledge and pro\'isions w ere rushed across the ch.asm. 
Even as the last man passed over, the floes moved, and one man 
just escaped droppmg through ’ 

Tw’O days later the expedition, exhausted by cold and hunger, 
reached land near Cape Sabine. They expected to find friends, 
leaping fires, food and clothing. Instead there w as only a letter 
of ominous portent- The relief part)' had left for home two 
months before, caching a few' garments and a token supply of 
food. 

Ignorance, incompetence and bad luck conspired to betray 



reader’s digest omnibus 


272 

the Greely expedition. A supply ship sent north in 1882 en- 
countered ice near Cape Sabine. The commander, in puppet-like 
compliance %vith idiotic orders, cached only ten days’ food for 
Greely and earned home the remaining eight tons of provisions. 

In 1883 the rehef ship Proteus^ escorted by the naval tender 
Yantic, was mpped in the ice near Cape Sabinfe and sank. Her 
men left less than a month’s supphes for Greely. The commander 
of the Tantic picked up the men, then turned and fled. ‘He 
knew,’ wrote Greely, ‘that 25 of his countrymen counted on 
relief that year, but Hs orders did not require him to assist them; 
his ship went south still freighted with abundant stores.’ 

In "Washington a cabinet member was quoted as saying he 
saw no need to send good money after bad in another attempt 
to rescue 25 dead men. But through the efforts of Greely’s wife 
a nation-wide newspaper campaign was launched to force 
ofiicial action. On 22 January 1884, the House passed a resolu- 
tion authorising another relief expedition. But through a 
technicality the Bill was not presented to the Senate in proper 
form. ‘I hope that if Greely and his men are left to perish,’ one 
Senator remarked, ‘they ivill die in a parliamentary maimer.’ 
Not until 24 April 1884, did rehef ships leave for Cape Sabme. 

Christmas 1883 ' Twenty-five gaunt, hungry men lay huddled 
in darkness, cold and squalor. Their crude stone hut at Cape 
Sabine was barely large enough to let them lie outstretched, and 
so low that when sitting upright in their frozen sleeping bags 
they scraped their heads against the ice-encrusted roof. The 
Arctic sun, long since set, would not rise again for many weeks. 
Even on starvation rations their food could hardly last until the 
end of March. 

In one comer lay Corporal Joseph Elison, even worse oflf than 
the rest. He and three others had volunteered to seek a cache of 
beef 35 miles to the south. The cache was found, but Ehson’s 
limbs were frozen stiff. He pleaded with his mates to leave him; 
instead they left the meat and carried him back to camp. Now 
nature had amputated his hands and feet. ‘He begged piteously 
for death the first week,’ Greely •wrote, ‘but within a month was 
a bright and cheery member of our party.’ 

By the flickering hght of a blubber lamp, Greely read aloud 
from the Bible and Ptckunck Papers. ‘Some begrudge the oil for 
this purpose,’ his diary notes, ‘but I look on it as more than well 



EPIC OF THE ARCTIC 273 

spent in giving food for our minds which, turned imsard these 
conung months, would ine\ntably drive us all insane.’ 

Jemmy 18, 1884: Cross lay dead ofstanation, the first of the 
band to go. The body was sewn in coffee sacks and iixappcd in 
an American flag. Greely read the bunal sendee, and the men 
laid their comrade in the ice at a place soon to be known as 
Cemetery Ridge 

On 2 February, Sergeant George Rice and the Eskimo 
Jens Edward set out across the ice pack to Greenland to seek 
help from the Etah Eskimos. Four da^'s later they returned 
exhausted and m despair, the straits could not be crossed 

To coimteract the men’s disappointment, Greely increased 
the daily allotment of bread by half an ounce. Tt is all a pitiful 
game of brag,’ his diary admits, ‘and I shall have to reduce 
everything this coming week ’ 

Oil could no longer be spared for reading, so Greely lectured 
m the darkness on the history and geography of the United 
States. He insisted on Army routmes of early nsing, imtten 
orders and reports, and so on, knowng that health and morale 
depended on just such measures Mostly the talk was of food 

March 26: The sun was at last high enough to shine through 
a hole cut in the roof of the hut. ‘Tlie first ra^’s,’ wrote Greely, 
‘disclosed a scene of utter squalor and misery. For a moment the 
ennui and pain, the cold and hunger, the ph^’sical weakness and 
mental irritation which had come, the heartsickness resulting 
from blasted hopes, and impotent rage at our helplessness rose 
up before me But instantly came other thoughts, of the patient 
courage, the endunng fortitude, the unwavering loyalt)*, the 
great self-denial that each man had shown through endless 
months I shall ever think better of mzmkind for this ordeal.’ 

April 6* Game could not be had. The men ivcre eating 
sand fleas - euphemistically called ‘shrimp’ - so small that 700 
W'eighed only an ounce. Sergeant Rice and Julius Frederick 
started on a second try for the cache of beef. They searched for 
days in vain, then Rice began to freeze. Fredcnck stripped off 
his owm outer garments in a futile attempt to warm his dv-ing 
friend, he held him in his arms till life was gone, then kissed his 
brow’, and struggled back across the ice alone. In an almost 
unparalleled example of the triumph of the human will, he 
added Rice’s uneaten ration to the common store. 



274 reader’s digest omnibus 

Apnl 9: Lieutenant Lockwood died of starvation. He had 
continued to record temperatures until two days before his 
death. 

May 26: Greely -wrote in his diary of Sergeant Edward Israel, 
the expedition’s astronomer: ‘Israel is now exceedingly weak, 
unable even to sit up. He talks much of his home and younger 
days. I gave him a spoonful of rum this morning. It was perhaps 
not fair to the rest, as it was evident it could not benefit him. 
However it was a great comfort and relief to him, and I did by 
him as I would hke to be done by in such a tune.’ 

In the end, the terrible ordeal proved too much for Private 
Charles Henry. He stole food from the starving party and in 
consequence was by far the strongest. There was real danger 
that he might kill the others to save the remaining food for 
himself, or in order to eat their flesh. As a last desperate measure, 
concurred in by all, Greely ordered his execution. He was shot 
on 6 June. 

Near the camp stood the old sledge made from the Lady 
Greely. Its sealskin thongs were now unlashed and eaten. Some 
preferred the sealskin boiled, others roasted it over the last bits 
of wood cut in matchstick lengths to insure complete combus- 
tion. The men consumed their boots and gloves. Later Greely 
issued his sealskin jumper, and the oil-tanned covermg of his 
sleepmg bag, to be eaten share and share alike by all the 
men. 

Sergeant Da-vid L. Brainard describes an amazing precaution 
taken on 19 June. A spoon %vas tied to the stump of Elison’s 
arm, so that if he should survive the others he would have a way 
to convey to his mouth whatever was left. 

The scientific purposes of the expedition were still meti- 
culously served. The barometer had been broken - ‘a great 
misfortune,’ \vrote Greely, ‘as I had hoped to continue the 
observations until the last man died.’ But wmd and temperature 
were still recorded. Brainard, on foraging expeditions for shreds 
of moss to eat, brought back Eskimo rehes as well for his 
archzeological collection Long found 12 unusual specimens of 
shellfish; and though the men were so hungry they ate cater- 
pillars when they could find them, the tempting molluscs were 
preserved in part of the last pint of alcohol for fiiither zoological 
study. 



EPIC OF THE ARCTIC 275 

June 20 ‘Six years ago today I married,’ Grcclv >\TOtc, ‘and 
three years ago I left my for this expcdiuon. "When wll tins 

hfe in death end?’ 

June 22* Wind and dnving snow besieged StarvTition Camp 
The se\en survivors composed themsches, each in his o%Nn \say, 
for death. Greely opened his Book of Common Prater and read 
‘Prayers for the D^dng’. Then he took up his diaiy once more. 
‘Buchanan Strait is open this noon a long way up the coast,’ he 
•svrote - and there his diary ends 

Towards midnight he thought he heard, above the howling 
of the gale, the long, low blast of a ship’s whistle Minutes 
endured like ages, and then he heard strange voices - the first 
in three Arctic years Unlike its predecessors, the 1884 relief 
party, led by Commander Winfield Scott Schley, had the judg- 
ment and guts vvluch the North demands Pushing ahead through 
fog and ice they arrived at the elcv'enth hour. 

Ehson, helpless, was sucking the spoon that had been strapped 
to his handless arm. Maurice Connell lay crumpled, to all 
appearance dead. Brainard drew himself up in a brav c attempt to 
sdute Only Frederick and Long were able to walk Bicdcrbeck, 
long the party’s nurse, continued his ministrations, dragging 
himself on hands and loiees, he forced the last two spoonfuls of 
brandy down the throat of the unconscious Connell. 

‘Greely, is this you?’ 

As from a distance Greely heard the words, ^^■lth fumbling 
fingers he adjusted his eyeglasses over fast dimming eyes 

^es,’ he said, and then in a voice that struggled not to w av cr, 
‘I am so glad to see you.’ 

Ehson died on the voyage home. He had been without feet 
or hands for more than six months Though not infected, the 
wounds had failed to heal. .'Vt first it was thought that Greely 
too would not survive. But by the tunc Mrs Greely was brought 
aboard at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, care and food and 
vvarmth had set all six survivors on the road to health. 

Greely lived another half century, admimstcnng the IVeaihcr 
Bureau and the Signal Corps and rising to the rank of major- 
general in 1906 On his 91st birthday - in March 1935, the 7 car 
of his death - he was awarded the Congressional Medal of 
Honour for his long hfe of servrice 



TRANSACTION IN TAHITI 


Condensed from The Atlantic Monthly 
JAMES NORMAN HALL 

Some years ago while living at Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, I 
found myself so low in funds that I retired to a one-room house 
on two acres about 35 imles from town, which I was able to 
rent for $3 a month. The land was so fertile that I decided to 
make a vegetable garden. 

The experience was disillusioning. Millions of tiny red ants 
earned away most of my seed and land crabs ate the few things 
that did grow. After three months all I had to show for my toil 
was two cobs of sweet com from which rats had eaten the kernels, 
three small tomatoes, and one marrow. Adding my time at 20 
cents an hour to the expenditure for tools and for seed which I 
had imported from Amenca, I found that these vegetables cost 
$15*50 each. Nevertheless I resolved to try once more, and 
obtained from the States a small quantity of new seed. 

But when I cleared away the weeds preparatory to planting, 
and saw the battalions of waiting ants and land crabs, I lost 
heart. T’d better go back to writing,’ I thought. That afternoon 
I was cleamng my rusty typewriter when a Chinaman named 
Hop Sing, who lived nearby, drove pzist in his dilapidated 
spring-wagon. I knew that he had a garden in which he raised 
sweet potatoes, water-melons and field com, so I hailed him and 
gave him my seed. 1 explained what each packet contained - 

Ftra puthshed tn ‘The Readet’s DtgesP in IWO 


276 



TRANSACTION IN TAHITI 277 

lettuce, beans, marrow, tomatoes. Golden Bantam com He 
grunted and said, ‘How much?’ 

‘Nothing,’ I replied. ‘A present for you.’ He grasped the seat 
of the wagon to steady himself and his black eyes glittered, but 
he displayed no other evidence of emotion. 

I forgot Hop Smg forthinth, being engrossed in the problem 
of how to hve on my capital of 128 francs - about $5 — until I 
could uTite and sell an article or story. Even though a manu- 
script sent to America were accepted at once, I couldn’t hope 
to receive a cheque for three months. 

My rent was paid for three months in advance, but what 
about food'^ To live three months on 128 francs was impossible, 
so I decided not to try; I spent 25 francs for native tobacco (if 
I was to uTite I would have to smoke) and invested most of the 
remainder m sweet potatoes and tmned beef \\Tien this food 
was gone - well. I’d uony' about that uhen the time came 

Three da^’s later I was strolling vamly to write an article 
on my recent expencnces in the South Seas uhen I was aroused 
from my mood of profound dejection by a knock at the door. 
It was Hop Sing From his wagon he brought m three water- 
melons, a bottle of ivine, a basket of eggs, and a hen. 

‘Littly plesent, you,’ he said, and quickly drove off. 

His generous gift was a life-saver. My tinned beef and sweet 
potatoes were nourishing, but by now I could hardly endure the 
sight of them. At once I planned a chicken dinner, but on 
second thought I tied the hen to a stake m the yard, found some 
coconuts partly eaten by rats, and fed her. After dining on a 
six-egg omelette I went back to my writing with entliusiasm, and 
in a feiv hours had finished my article. 

The monthly steamer from New Zealand to the States ivas 
due at Papeete early next morning and I determined to put my 
manuscript on that ship mysdf. To save money, I decided to 
walk into towm. Fortified ivith another six-egg omelette and a 
glass of the wne, I set out. 

It was brilhant moonlight, and as I follow’ed the winding 
road the silvery smoke of waterfalls festooned lofty precipices, 
and on the coral reef great combers broke in hnes of white fire. 
From native houses came snatches of French and Tahidan songs 
accompanied by guitars and accordions. Tow’ards midnight I 
found m>-self agam thinking of food. As I was passing a thatched 

k 


reader’s digest omnibus 


278 

hut, an old native offered me some of the food he and his wfe 
were roasting m the coals of their dnftwood fire. The dish was 
delicious. To my amazement the old man said it was made of 
land crabs - the very pests that had aided in ruining my garden 
- and mape nuts - which were abundant on my place. I hadn’t 
known that they were good to eat. He showed me how to catch 
crabs with a fishpole and line baited ^vlth hibiscus leaves 

I reached Papeete at daivn, just as the steamer entered the 
harbour. At the post ofiice I mailed my precious parcel with a 
silent prayer, then breakfasted frugally. I was strolling along the 
colonial waterfiront when a bald, fat httle Chinaman came 
running after me. 

‘You know Hop Sing?’ he asked. 

‘Yes,’ I said, ‘Hop Sing live close me.’ 

‘Hop Sing brudda-law me. He send me letta; say you give 
seed, make garden. My name Lee Fat - keep store there,’ and 
he pointed down the street. ‘^Vhen you go home^’ 

‘Go this morning on bus.’ 

‘Goo-bye,’ he said, and rushed away. WTule waiting for the 
bus I sat on the Beachcombers’ Bench, usually occupied on 
steamer day by strays from aU parts of the world, waiting for 
letters containing money — which almost never came. ‘Three 
months hence,’ I thought, ‘I’ll be sitting here nursing the same 
forlorn hope.’ "Well, I’d have nine francs left after paymg my 
bus fare; ^vlth the land crabs and mape nuts I shouldn’t starve, 
and meanwhile I’d work hard at my wnting. 

When I got off the bus at home the driver handed me a box. 
‘You’ve made a mistake,’ I told him, ‘that’s not mine.’ He 
explained that a Chinaman had paid for its transportation to 
my place. Prying off the lid I found a pencilled card: ‘Mr Hall, 
for you. Lee Fat.’ In the box were tivo pounds of chocolates, 
some lichee nuts, a quart of champagne, two silk handkerchiefs 
and a pair of silk pyjamas. 

I lowered the champagne into my cistern to keep it cool, 
then went to attend to my chicken. She had worked herself 
loose, and after a search I fbund her under the back steps, 
where she had laid an egg and was sittmg on it. This egg was 
unfertilised so I took it out, made her a nest of excelsior, and 
put in it the remaining five eggs of Hop Sing’s gift. The hen 
settled. down on them ivith contented duckings. 



TRANSACTION IN TAHITI 


279 

I thrived upon the crabs and mape nuts. Owing to worrv 
and my diet of tinned beef and sweet potatoes, I had been 

but -within six weeks I gained 14 pounds. Meanwhile my 
hen hatched five chicks In my absorption in crab and chicken 
farmmg, and m my wTitmg, I had forgotten the champagne, 
but one day when my landlord and se\eral of his children 
• dropped in, I shared the bottle with him and gave Lee Fat’s 

chocolates to the children The next morning I found on m> 
verandah a bunch of bananas and a sack of oranges and 
mangoes Thereafter I w'as never without fruit or fish from mv 
landlord and his wife I w-as ov'erw helmed with benefits and 
remembered v\ith deep gratitude that I owed them all to Hop 
Sing. 

His garden was now flourishing, and gave promise of a 
bountiful han est under his patient care. Hop Sing vias a baker 
as w’cll as a gardener, and four times a week he left at my gate a 
ensp loaf or a pineapple tart. Nothing I could do or say dried 
up his fountain of gratitude for my httle gift of seed. 

The third incommg steamer since the posting of my manu- 
script vias due almost before I reahsed it. Once more I walked 
into town and waited on the Beachcombers’ Bench for the 
distribution of the mail. Finally, summoning all my resolution, 
I vient to the delivery vrindow. At first the girl said there was 
nothing for me But as I was going, she asked my name again. 
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘there’s one letter Fifty centimes due.’ 

kMien I paid this I had only a 25-centimc piece left, the 
smallest com in French Oceania. But the letter contained a note 
accepting my manusenpt and a cheque for $500! 

To me this was a fortime. It would pay all my hving expenses 
for several ^ears. On the other hand, it would enable me to 
leave Tahiti, and I knew that if I didn’t go now I might never 
again have enough money for a steamship ticket. I v\’alked the 
streets in an agon> of mdeasion. At last, as the toivn clock was 
striking two, the decision was made. I vTOuld go. 

On the day of my departure Hop Sing and Lee Fat came to 
sec me off. Hop Sing’s partmg gift was a basket of big tomatoes 
and a dozen ears of Golden Bantam - fruits of the seeds I had 
giien him. The two Chinamen smiled goodb>es as the steamer 
backed away from the v%harf. 

I asked the cabin steward to have the com prepared and 


28 o 


reader’s digest omnibus 


served for my luncheon. My only companion at the table was a 
tall, spare man with a drooping white moustache and bilious 
complexion. He sat down without even a nod. From his dour 
expression as he looked over the menu card I judged him hard 
to please in the matter of food. When the steaming sweet com 
was brought in he looked at it in astomshment, pushed the rest 
of his lunch aside, and helped himself. After finishing his third 
ear he said, ‘Steward, where does this corn come from? It’s not 
on the menu.’ 

‘It’s a gift from the gentleman opposite you.’ 

He gave me a quick glance as though he had just then become 
aware of my presence. ‘Consider yourself thanked, sir,’ he said 
to me brusquely. WTien I left the table he was still eating corn. 
On deck half an hour later, watching the mountains of Tahiti 
disappear below the horizon, I saw my luncheon companion 
approach. 

‘Young man, that was delicious,’ he said. ‘I ate six ears! You 
see, I have dyspepsia and sweet com is one of the few things I 
can eat without suffering afterwards. Now then, tell me about 
your island. I didn’t go ashore. Useless to try to see a place in 
six hours.’ 

I told him of the beauty of the island and of the native life, 
and at length cut off short, thinking he might be bored. 

‘Not at all,’ he insisted. ‘You’ve had an interesting time, 
evidently, and you’ve made good use of your eyes and ears. 
Ever try your hand at ^vriti^g?’ 

I explained that wnting was my trade, and when he asked to 
see some of my stuff I brought him six short manuscripts. He 
settled down in his deck chair. I left him for an hour or so, and 
when I returned he said, ‘These four are not bad. ^Vhat do you 
want for them? I forgot to tell you that I’m manager of a 
newspaper syndicate in America.’ 

I was about to ask if $ioo for the four would be too much 
when he interrupted me. ‘Give you $150 each for them. That 
satisfactory?’ I admitted that it was - quite satisfactory. 

That night, looking back on the steady flow of good fortune 
that had come my way ever since my modest gift to Hop Smg, 
I doubted whether bread cast upon the waters had eve]f brought 
anyone so abundant a reward. 

And it all came fi-om a dollar’s worth of seed. 




IT HAPPENED ON THE SUBWAY 

PAUL DEUTSCHMAN 

There are two different explanations of ^\hat happened as 
the result of a subivay ride ttJten by Hungarian-bom Marcel 
Stemberger on the afternoon of lo January' 1948 

Some people will say that Stemberger’s sudden impulse to 
visit a sick friend — and the bnght is orld of dramatic events that 
followed — as part of a string of luckj' coincidences. Others 
will see the guiding hand of Dhine Proridence in everj’thmg 
that happened that day 

But w’hatever the eiqilanation, here are the facts: 

Stemberger, a portrait photographer, has followed for years 
an unchanging routine in going from his suburban home to his 
office in New York. A methodical man of nearly 50, with bushy 
white hair, guileless brown eyes and the bouncing enthusiasm 
of a czardas dancer of his native Hungary, Stemberger takes the 
g.09 train to the city each morning. 

On the morning of 10 January, he boarded the 9.09 as usual. 
En route he suddeffiy decided to Nisit Laszlo Victor, a Hungarian 
friend who lived in Brookljm and who ivas ill. 

T don’t know' why I decided to go to see him that morning,’ 
Stemberger told me some w'eeks afterwards. ‘I could have done 
it after office hours. But I kept thinking that he could stand a 
little cheering up ’ 

Accordmgly, at the next stop Stemberger changed to the 
subway for Brookljn, went to his friend’s house and stayed until 
mid-aftemoon He then boarded a subway for his office in 
mid-town New’ York. 

‘The car w’as crowded,’ Stemberger told me, ‘and there 
seemed to be no chance of a scat. But just as I entered, a man 
sitting by the door suddenly jumped up to leave and I slipped 
into the empty place. 

*I’ie been liring in New York long enough not to be in the 
habit of starting conversations with strangers. But, being a 
photographer, I have the pecuhar habit of analysing people’s 

Fitg tn •TUlRair't Otfaf tn 1949 

281 



282 reader’s digest omnibus 

faces, and I was struck by the features of the passenger on my 
left. He was probably in his late 30’s and his eyes seemed to 
have a hurt expression in them He was reading a Hunganan- 
language newspaper and something prompted me to turn to 
him and say m Htmgarian, “I hope you don’t mind if I glance 
at your paper.” 

‘The man seemed surprised to be addressed in his native 
language but he answered politely, “You may read it now. I’ll 
have time later on.” 

‘During the half-hour nde to town we had quite a conver- 
sation. He said his name was Paskin. A law student in Hungary 
when the war started, he had been put into a labour battalion 
and sent to the Ukraine. Later he was captured by the Russians 
and put to work burying the German dead. After the war he 
had covered hundreds of miles on foot, until he reached his 
home in Debrecen, a large city in eastern Hungary. 

‘I myself knew Debrecen quite well, and we talked about it 
for a while. Then he told me the rest of his story. "WTien he 
went to the apartment once occupied by his father, mother, 
brothers and sisters, he found strangers living there. Then he 
went upstairs to the apartment he and his wife had once had. 
It also was occupied by strangers. None of them had ever heard 
of his family. 

‘As he was leaving, full of sadness, a boy ran after him, 
calling : Paskin bacsi' Paskin basaP’ThaX means “Uncle Paskm”. 
The child was the son of some old neighbours of his. He went to 
the boy’s home and talked to his parents. “Your whole family is 
dead,” they told him “The Nazis took them and your wife to 
Auschwitz.” 

‘Auschivitz was one of the worst concentration camps. Paskin 
thought of the Nazi gas chambers, and gave up all hope. A few 
days later, too heartsick to remain longer in Hungary, which 
to him was a funeral land, he set out again on foot, stealing 
across border after border until he reached Paris. He had 
managed to emigrate to the United States in October 1947, 
just three months before I met him. 

‘All the time he had been talking, I kept thinking that 
somehow his story seemed familiar. Suddenly I knew why. A 
young woman whom I had met recently at the home of friends 
had also been from Debrecen j she had been sent to Auschwitz; 



IT HAPPENED ON THE SUBWAY 283 

from there she had been transferred to work in a German 
munitions factory. Her relatives had been killed m the gas 
chambers Later, she was liberated and was taken to America 
in the first boatload of Displaced Persons in 1946 Her story had 
moved me so much that I had written down her address and 
phone number, intending to invite her to meet my family and 
thus help relieve the terrible emptiness in her present life. 

‘It seemed impossible that there could be any connection 
betivccn these two people, but when I reached my station I 
stayed on the train and asked in what I hoped was a casual 
voice, “Is your first name Bela^” 

‘He turned pale “Yes*” he answered. “How did you know?” 

*I fumbled anxiously in my address book. “Was your wfe’s 
name Marya**” 

‘He looked as if he were about to faint. “Yes* Yes*” he said- 

‘I said, “Let’s get off the train ” I took him by the arm at the 
next station and led him to a phone booth. He stood there like 
a man in a trance while I searched for the number in my address 
book It seemed hours before I had the woman called Marya 
Paskin on the other end. (Later, I learned her room was 
alongside the telephone, but she was in the habit of never 
answenng it because she had so few fnends and the calls were 
always for someone else. This time, however, there was no one 
else at home and, after letting it ring for quite a while, she 
answered it.) 

*l\Tien I heard her voice, at last, I told her who I was and 
asked her to describe her husband. She seemed surprised at the 
question, but gave me a description. Then I asked her where 
she had lived in Debrecen and she told me the address. 

‘Asking her to hold the wire, I turned to Paskin and said, 
“Did you and your ivife live on such-and-such a street**” 

‘ “Yes!” Bela exclaimed. He was white as a sheet, and 
trembling. 

‘ “Try to be calm,” I ui^ed him. “Something miraculous is 
about to happen to you. Here, take this telephone and talk to 
your wife*” 

‘He nodded his head in mute bewilderment, his eyes bright 
ivith tears He took the receiver, listened a moment to his wife’s 
voice, then suddenly cried, “This is Bela* This is Bela*” and 
began to mumble hystencally. Seeing that the poor fellow was 


284 reader’s digest omnibus 

so excited he couldn’t talk coherently, I took the receiver from 
his shaking hands. 

‘I began talking to Marya, who also sounded hystencah 
“Stay where you are,” I told her. “I am sending your husband 
to you. He ^vill be there in a few minutes.” 

‘Bela was crying like a baby and saying over and over again, 
“It is my ^vife, I go to my wofe!” 

‘At first I thought I had better accompany Paskin lest the 
man should faint from excitement, but decided that this was a 
moment in which no stranger should intrude. Putting Paskin 
into a taxicab, I directed the driver to take him to Marya’s 
address, paid the fare and said goodbye.’ 

Bela Paskin’s reunion ivith his wfe was a moment so poignant, 
so electric with suddenly released emotion, that afterwards 
neither he nor Marya could recall anything about it. 

‘I remember only that when I left the phone I walked to the 
mirror like in a dream to see maybe if my hair had turned 
grey,’ she said later. ‘The next thing I know a taxi stops in fi’ont 
of the house and it is my husband who comes towards me 
Details I cannot remember; only this I know - that I was happy 
for the first time in many years. 

‘Even now it is difficult to believe that it happened. We have 
both suffered so much, I have almost lost the capability to be 
not afraid. Each time my husband goes from the house I say to 
myself, “Will an^'thing happen to take him from me again?” ’ 

Her husband is confident that no overwhelming misfortune 
will ever again befall them. ‘Providence has brought us together,’ 
he says simply. ‘It was meant to be.’ 

Sceptical persons would no doubt attribute the events of that 
memorable afternoon to mere chance. 

But was it chance that made Stemberger suddenly decide to 
visit his sick friend, and hence take a subway line that he had 
never been on before^ Was it chance that caused the man 
sitting by the door of the car to rush out just as Stemberger 
came m^ Was it chance that caused Bela Paskin to be sitting 
beside Stemberger, reading a Hungarian newspaper? 

Was it chance - or did God ride the Brooklyn subway that 
afternoon^ 




BLUE RIVER IN THE SEA 

Condensed from Frontiers' A Magazine of Natural History 
A. H. Z. CARR 

After the tragic crash of the New York-Bermuda flying boat 
Cavalier on a freezing January day, one of those rescued after 
floating in the ocean for ten terrible hours exclaimed, ‘If it had 
not been for the ivTirm water wc would all have perished.’ 
Luckily for those who hved, the plane had come down where 
that miracle of nature, the Gulf Stream, runs like a balmy blue 
nver across the cold green Atlantic. 

Two million tons of coal burned every minute would not 
equal the beat which the Gulf Stream transfers in its Atlantic 
crossing IVithout the Stream’s ever-renewed ^t of tropical 
warmth, England’s lush green landscape would be as stark and 
inhospitable as that of Labrador, which is no farther north. Her 
ports would be locked by ice every winter. If the Gulf Stream 
w'cre cooled by as httle as 15 degrees, England, Scandinavia, 
Northern France and Germany would likely become land for 
the Eskimos. 

One of earth’s mightiest powers, this Gulf Stream Every 
hour, nearly 100 bilhon tons of water pour through the Florida 
straits. By comparison, the majestic iCssissippi is a mere dribble; 
even the vast discharge of the Amazon is not one five-hunihedth 
its volume. 

Ask any ship’s officer about the force of this ribbon of blue. 
Back in 1513, Ponce de Leon on his voyage to Flonda was 
startled to find that in spite of strong favouring winds his ship 
w’as actually driven back by the motion of the water. In colomal 
days, Bntish authorities, annoyed by the slow time made by thdr 
mail packets on the westward Atlantic crossing, took the matter 
up with our own Benjamin Frankhn. Dr Frankhn put his 
scientific mind to work, talked ivith an expenenced Nantucket 
whaler captam and learned enough to chart the stream, giving 
It the name it still bears. He informed the British that westbound 

Fm’ fnUltsked »n Tht SeaStt’s Dlfesr w J939 

s ?85 



286 


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vessels which avoided the Stream would gain at least two weeks 
over ships which sailed against it. It was a long while before 
the proud sea captains of England deigned to accept his advice, 
but today great liners coming from Europe go out of their way 
to avoid the drag of the Gulf Stream, whUe gladly accepting its 
help on the eastbound journey. South of New York, the Stream 
may reduce a ship’s daily run as much as 70 miles. 

Franklin, too, hit upon a reasonable explanation of the Gulf 
Stream. The trade wmds, blowing west from Africa, pile up 
warm tropical waters in the Gulf of Mexico, where their level 
is several inches higher than that of the nearby ocean. From 
this relentless pressure they must have an outlet, and they find 
one in the gap between Florida and Cuba, which is about 90 
miles -tvide and 2,000 feet deep. Through this immense drain- 
pipe the waters rush northwards and their 5,000-mile journey 
to Scandinavia begins. 

All of the Stream does not move at the same speed. It is a 
three-mile-an-hour express on the middle track, -with slow 
freights on either side. From Flonda north, the Stream follows 
the curve of the coast but stays well offshore. Two hundred 
miles out of New York, your boat may be nosing through a 
blustery ^vinter wind, but in the distance a faint haze lies over 
a blue sea. Then all at once spring has come. The vivid mdigo 
of the great current stands out in sharp contrast to the murky 
green of the surrounding ocean. You shed your overcoat as the 
temperature of the water changes from 40 degrees to 75, and 
all the romantic travel advertisement phrases about the Gulf 
Stream seem behevable. 

When New York has had a particularly mild -winter, news- 
papers sometimes suggest that the Gulf Stream has ‘changed 
its course,’ that soon Long Island may be another Florida, 
complete with orange groves. Science disagrees. It is probable 
that the Gulf Stream has not permanently altered its course 
since it has been knoivn Even if it did, the chmate of the 
Atlantic States would hardly be improved, for our prevailmg 
wmds, which govern temperature, blow from the west. Some 
government experts even claim that if the Stream moved closer 
to New York, wmters might be more severe, as the cold baro- 
metric ‘highs’ from the west would be hkely to huger, held up 
by the permanent ‘warm front’ of the Gulf Stream. 



BLUE RIVER IN THE SEA 287 

Off the Grand Banlss the Stream, now about 300 miles %vide, 
meets the icj' Labrador current. This umon of arctic and 
southern waters produces the thick fogs for which the region is 
famous Shortly ^icr the Titanic disaster, an American engineer 
proposed that England and the United States jointly construct 
a huge jetty east from Newfoundland, to divert the Labrador 
current. Sediment, he claimed, would soon build a peninsula 
over such a dam, free the Banks fium fog and icebergs, and let 
the unimpeded Gulf Stream give northern Europe a California 
climate. Fantastic as the idea sounds, it was supported by 
prominent engineers, including Goethals of Panama Canal 
fame, and a Bill w as introduced m Congress; but with the World 
■W'ar the project died. 

Although the Gulf Stream loses some speed and heat at the 
Grand Banks, on the whole it offers surprismg resistance to the 
cold drift from the north. UTien the Labrador current is strong. 
It forces the Stream south for many miles without actually 
breaking mto it Even with icebergs at its margm the Stream 
retains its character, supporting tropical marine life such as the 
colder waters a few’ miles off never produce. Such famihar 
denizens of the North Atlantic as whales, while found on both 
sides of the Stream, are rarely seen in it. 

Neanng Europe, the current spreads north and south The 
northern drift dissipates itself m the Arctic Ocean. The southern 
drift comes agam mto the path of the hot trade winds, and the 
hurrjmg waters start baci. to the hlexican Gulf, gathering 
again their store of equatorial heat. 

The complete coune of the Stream, therefore, resembles a 
tremendous 12,000-railc vvhirlpool. The central waters within 
this eddy are relatively still Their chief feature is that strange 
‘sea of seaweed’, the Sargasso Sea Legend has called it a 
sailors’ death-trap, where becalmed sailmg vessels are caught 
fast in Its treacherous slimy growth. Actually the Sargasso is 
not dangerous. The derehets occasionally seen among the dead 
seaweed have been earned, like the weed itself, into the centre 
of the eddy by the currents, and represent tragedies which took 
place perhaps thousands of miles away. 

It takes three years, saentists think, for the North Atlantic 
eddy to make a complete circuit. This estimate is based qn the 
courses of bottles - thrown overboard to drift - contaimng 



288 


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papers, printed in many languages, requesting the finder to note 
the place and date of finding and mail them back. The United 
States Hydrographic Office has thousands of these ‘bottle 
papers’ on file, and more come in every day. 

Every ocean in the world has its own mysterious system of 
eddying currents. In the North Pacific, for example, there is the 
magnificent Japanese Current which moderates the climate of 
Alaska and tihe Pacific Coast. Science is still not satisfied with 
what it knows about these currents. Franklm’s idea about 
prevailing wmds is popular, but other contributing causes 
mclude differences in ocean levels, temperatures, and densities, 
and the rotation of the earth. 

But for most of us, it is enough that the Gulf Stream and its 
counterparts keep on their benevolent and eternal round, aiding 
mariners to their ports and tempenng the winds to shivering 
mankind. 




THE 

MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER 

I’VE MET 

ROBERT FLAHERTY 

We encountered her soon after our arrival in the httle town of 
Apia, in British Samoa - a stout, homely, barefoot Polynesian 
girl of about 23, dressed in a flowered Mother Hubbard. We 
saw her everywhere, and after a while we were sure she was 
following us. "When we questioned one of the traders he said, 
‘Fa^a-Samoa - the way of Samoa — shejust wants to make fhends.’ 

We had come to make a motion picture of native life in the 
South Seas. There were seven of us - my Avife, our three small 
children with their Irish nurse Anme, my brother and I. We 
had chosen Savii, the westernmost island of the Samoan group, 
as the place to make our documentary film , and the tiny village 
of Safune was to be our headquarters. For the moment we were 
staying in Apia, to obtain official permits and to have a tailor 
maJce the light clothing we would need. 

First published in "The Reader’s Digesf in 1942 



THE MOST unforgettable CHARACTER I’VE MET 289 

One day when our children were pla^dng in front of the 
bungalow , the Samoan girl watched them until their ball rolled 
mto the road This was the excuse she had been ivaitmg for 
She picked it up, walked shyly to the children and said: *My 
name, it is Fialelei ’ 

They smiled, she smiled, and from that moment they were 
friends. The cliildren brought her to the verandah where we 
w ere sitting. ‘Please,’ she said to us, ‘Fa' moli-moh - make smooth 
your heart It is only that I am playing with the children.’ Her 
voice was beautifully soft. ‘It’s good of you to come,’ we replied. 

Ev'er afterwards she was v«th the children. Between whiles she 
took care of Annie, who had been stricken by the oppressive 
heat. At night she slept on a mat on our verandah, ^\^len Annie 
recovered she said Fialelei had been a godsend. The name 
Fialelei, v%e discovered, meant ‘she who wishes everyone well’. 
It fitted the prl perfectly. 

"WTien vse sailed for Savil we said goodbye to Fialelei The 
girl kissed the children by pressing her nose against their cheeks. 
I tned to pay her for her services but she folded her arms behind 
her back. ‘Only to know you has made me v'er’ happy,’ she 
said. 

Safune has been desenbed as Paradise. So it is - except for 
flies. ^Ve screened the bungalow but a few flies alway’s got in. 
Nothing the white man can say can convince the natives that 
flies are dangerous. "We could not persuade our servants to kill 
them. Tabu, they would sav', shaking their heads "WTien an 
epidemic of amoebic dysentery struck the village, the flies spread 
it and every house soon had at least one victim. We prayed that 
our family would be spared 

One evening a boat came in. Hoping that it brought medical 
help from Apia, we hurried down to the beach ‘No-no 
doctor,’ said the native skipper. Then we heard a voice calling 
us There was Fialelei. 

‘You came all this way' just to see us^’ I asked. 

*I am ver’ womed about the sickness,’ she rephed. The girl 
had left her home and come to a plague-nddcn village to be 
near us — a iamily she had known but two weeks 

The epidemic took heavy' toll of hfe. Then Annie was stricken 
and there were days when we lost all hope for her. I don’t know 
what we would have done if it hadn’t been for Fialelei She 



reader’s digest omnibus 


290 

saw that the water was boiled. She examined the fruit and 
vegetables, for a break in the skin might mean infection. She 
cared for the children. She sat up ivith Annie during the 
anxious nights; I don’t know when she slept. 

And, tabu or not, she swatted - and made the servants swat - 
every fly that got in the house. The local trader exclaimed, ‘In 



my years in the islands I have never before seen one of them 
kill a fly!’ In time the epidemic died out, Annie got well, the 
heat broke and the towering coconut trees began to bow to 
south-east trade winds. 

We lived as one big family with the people of our village. The 
children ran about -with a lava-lava around their middles, red 
seed necklaces fashioned by Fialelei around their throats. Fialelei 
taught them to dance, sivim and dive, and they soon picked up 
from her the beautiful Samoan songs. I determined that when 
our motion picture was shown in America music of that sort 
should accompany it. 

"We had come to make a film but began to fear that we ivould 
not succeed. All actors ■were to be natives, and money meant 
little to them. In my first picture, Kanook of the North, the drama 
was ready-made in the struggle of the Eskimos with snow and 
cold and hunger. These Samoans could eat merely by extending 
a lazy arm for a banana. How could w'e get them to work for 
us? Always we had to contend with the happy-go-lucky habits 
of a people unable to grasp the seriousness of our undertaking. 
Moreover, we were confronted by island ritual and formality; 



THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER I’VE MET 201 

chiefs and heads offanuhcs had to be consulted frequently. IVe 
Mere m constant danger of\iolating obscure tabus 

That Moana of ike South Seas ever reached the screen at all is 
due to Fialelei. She had learned Enghsh at a nussion school, 
and bemg tlie grand-daughter of a great chief she knew the 
intricacies of island etiquette and petty jealousies, and could 
deal irith chiefs on equal terms. 'With sj.'mpathetic understand- 
ing she became our mterprctcr, acted as diplomatic counsellor 
and emissaiy*, expert on nati\ e protocol. 

Each mght we held conferences to decide the work for the 
following day. Fialelei hstened, sometimes shyly making a sug- 
gestion. Often when cveiytlung was ready for the camera she 
w ould discover that the heroine had omitted part of her costume. 
Angrily she w ould send tlie girl scurrying for the missing article. 

'WTien for some reason the local trader, a white man whose 
•word had always been law in the islands, became incensed over 
our film-making and tried to persuade the natives not to act for 
my camera, Fiilelci told the chiefs that of all the islands theirs 
had been chosen for this picture, and that the film w'ould be 
shown throughout the W'orld and would bring them honour 
and glory. The picture-makmg went on. 

IMicnever she found time she took the children piggj'i-back 
to a lagoon under a cliff from w'hich himg long vines Catching 
hold of these she would swing in great loo-foot arcs, then let go 
and tumble with a mighty splash into the water. She was grace- 
ful in walking and runmng, and in the water she was wonderful. 
It w'as a memorable thing to see her sivimming with beautiful 
ease, my children hanging on to her wherever they could 
Though she had small ankles and wrists, Fialelei w’as immensely 
strong. Once she lifted my 14 stone brother as if he were a 
kitten. 

At last, after two years in Samoa, our picture \vas finished. 
The thought of leaving Fialelei behmd never occurred to us. 
\NTiiIe w'e waited in Apia for a ship, my wife outfitted the girl 
for our northern climate. The hardest problem w-as shoes, for 
Fialelei had never w'om them and her feet wxre large. 

To her the voyage on the white man’s ship was wonderful. 
She learned to play deck tennis with skill. Every day she and 
the captam sw’am m the pool on deck, like seals in a tanV On 
the morning we reached San Francisco, the aty w'as drowned in 



reader’s digest omnibus 


292 

fog. Beside me I heard a fiightened sob. It was Fialelci - she 
had never seen a fog before. In the hotel she simply could not 
keep out of the lift. ‘What floor, please?’ the operator would 
inquire. ‘No floor, please,’ she would reply. ‘I am just going 
up and I am just going down.’ 

Later we went on to Hollywood and afterwards to New York. 
She lived with us in this country a year. She loved candy, ice- 
cream sodas and apples. Popping com amused her endlessly. 
Before skyscrapers and other mechamcal wonders she was pro- 
perly respectful, but it was people who really interested her. 
One day when we looked down upon the throngs hurrying 
along Fifth Avenue she said, ‘How can so many people pass one 
another and not speak?’ 

Pam m any of us affected her more than pain to herself. One 
day my \vife had a sick headache; Fialelei gently massaged her 
temples, and as her slim fingers moved she kept her face turned 
aside to hide her tears. 

A fHend of mine heard that there were some Samoan dancers 
at Coney Island. Without forewarmng Fialelei, we took her 
there. The moment she heard the music and saw the dancers 
she sprang on the stage and m a twinkling was dancing wth the 
others. Afterwards they gathered - these Samoans, thousands 
of miles from home - crying and laughing, to exchange 
experiences. 

"Wflien the Department of Imnugration notified us that the 
girl must return to Samoa we pleaded ivith the officials, but to 
no avail. The children and Annie sobbed unashamedly Fialelei 
shook them off at last and, bravely laughing through the tears 
that rolled doivn her cheeks, waved goodbye. 

‘Everyone on the railroad was kind,’ she wrote us some 
months later. ‘And on the ship it was the same. I am going over 
to Safune to tell them you are all well. Be ^vritlng please. For all 
alone I am now again and all I have is aloafa (love) for you all.’ 

All this happened 18 years ago. There have been many 
letters, but we have never seen her since. 

She who wishes everyone well was her name. It was also her way 
of life. A friend of ours who had kno%vn her remarked, ‘It was 
like having Christ m the house.’ 



I WAS A MALE WAR BRIDE 

Condensed from The Baltimore Sunday Sun 
HENRI ROCHARD 

Henn Rochard is the pen name of a yi-year-old major in the Belgian 
Army reserve who was, before the war, a student at Colonial University 
in Antwerp. He holds B.S., M.S and Ph.D. degrees from Belgian, 
French and German universities. Until the capitulation of Bel- 
gium he served as an officer in the anti-aircraft artillery. Thereafter he 
joined the Resistance forces He spent five months in German prison 
camps. 

It all started when I met a U.S. Army nurse. 

While scning as a haison officer for the Belgian,Govemment 
at the German war* crimes trials, I was accidentally hit by a 
car and was taken to a U.S Army hospital There I met 
Catherme. 

Upon my release from the hospital I obtamed my discharge 
fixtm the Bdgian Army and returned to Nuremberg as a cmhan 
employee of the U.S \Var Department. Catherme and I became 
engaged 

Our first problem ^vas to obtam permission fi-om U.S. Army 
Headquarters to marry. It’s not like asking a father for his 
daughter’s hand and getting an immediate yes or no I had to 
type out five copies of my personal history"^ which, together ivith 
our formed marriage request, were sent to Headqueirters Two 
months later the documents were returned, duly stamped. 
‘Henri Rochard, being morally and phy'sically fit, and the 
umon not seemmg to bring discredit upon the Armed Forces 
of the United States, this marriage is approved.’ 

We platmed to leave for the Urated States as soon as possible, 
so we made inquiries at the nearest U.S. Consulate regarding 
conditions of my entry. 

Four months later we received a reply. ‘It is probable that 
you can be admitted into the United States under the proxisions 

F ira ptiiltskti in ‘The Saitr j DittsC in 1947 


293 



reader’s digest omnibus 


294 

of Public Law 271, which regulates the entry of War Bndes ’ 
With that letter my troubles began. 

Armed with the letter, I went to my own headquarters and 
asked for the necessary Army forms. People there were very 
sorry, but there was no mention of male war brides in Army 
regulations; my wife would have to procure the forms through 
Aer headquarters ‘For this purpose the Army considers you 
your wife’s dependent.’ 

Catherine secured the necessary papers and forwarded them 
to Headquarters. Six weeks later this starthng letter amved, 
addressed to Mrs HenriRochard (i.e., me), c/o Captain Cathenne 
G. Rochard* 

Dear Madame, (me again!) 

Following application of your husband (thatwas my wife) 

you are informed that your application to enter the United 

States as a War Bnde has been accepted by this office. 

Please fill in attached form. 

The form requested full information about my past and also 
wanted to know if I was pregnant If so, how many months^ 

A fortnight later a letter addressed to Mrs Henri Rochard 
directed me to report to Breraerhaven, War Brides Division. 

When I arrived there, accompanied by my wife, I reported, 
as ordered, to the Dependents’ Hotel. The only males in the 
hotel, I found, were small babies and full colonels. The officer 
in charge, however, checked his mcoming list. 139 War Brides, 
126 children of War Bndes, 9 dogs of "War Brides, i War 
Husband. 

My vanity was not inflated by being hsted after the dogs, but 
at least my sex had been restored. 

At this point I was told that I must return to Belgium to 
obtain a passport. This took two weeks. Upon my return I was 
greeted with the information that I needn’t have made the trip 
after all, because P.L. 271 provides that no passport or clearance 
is required! 

The Army now instructed me to go to the Staging Area, 
Building II. The sergeant on duty at Building 1 1 said he could 
give me neither room nor bed because according to regulations 
these quarters were for ‘U.S. Officers’ and, although I was a 
reserve officer of an Allied army, I was actually a dependent. 



I WAS A MALE WAS. BSIDE 


295 

He directed me to Building 10, assigned to female dependents. 
There the ^VAC sergeant on duty screamed when I entered. I 
explained that I was a male sometimes listed as a female be- 
cause the Army had no regulations covermg my ctise and the 
categor)' m which I fitted best was War Bndes 
The WAG decided that I should try Bmlding g. There the 
lieutenant in charge laughed at my story and let me have a bed 
In the morning when I had located my wife, we walked over 
to the dining-room. There I had to sign the war bndes’ sheet, 
my wife the officers’ sheet. My wife paid for her meal, but my 
money was refused because, as a tvar bnde, I was a guest of the 
government. 

Finally the long-awaited day of departure came and I was 
directed to nde to the dock ivith the other ivar bndes The 
merry-go-round was starting again - 1 appeared on the shipping 
list as Mrs Henn Rochard' As I climbed the ship’s gangway, a 
naval officer grabbed me by the lapel, where a shipping tag 
indicated my name (Mrs), fonvarding address, and age. ‘Sony,’ 
he said, ‘you can’t board this ship. You’re not iralitary personnel. 
You’re not a avilian employee You’re not a dependent ’ 

There was nothing for me to do but turn back At the other 
end of the gangivay stood the Army heutenant in charge of war 
bndes He sent me back up agam In a moment. Army and 
Navy were engaged in hostilities m the middle of the gangivay, 
while I served as shock absorber. 

Finally the facts of the case were more or less agreed on Mrs 
Henri Rochard was a male She (or he) ivas the spouse of a 
returmng servicewoman and was entitled to the same nghts and 
pnvileges as war bndes As a war bride I was entitled to a bunk 
m a first-class stateroom. Because female war bndes m these 
quarters nught object, however, it was decided to bunk me with 
staff officers 

As our ship passed the chffs of Dover, our troubles seemed to 
be over. My ivife and I managed to have our meals together, 
and nothing more than fire drills broke the tranquilhty. 

Then, on the fifth day, the transport surgeon called over the 
public address system for all war brides to report to the hospital. 
I decided not to report It ivas an error. WTien the last bride had 
received her check-up, the PA system started screaming the 
name of Mrs Henri Rochard So I reported. 



reader's digest omnibus 


296 

‘Are you the husband of that war bride who didn’t think it 
necessary to come dotra?’ the physician greeted me ‘You’d 
better tell her to come down — and fast. If she isn’t here in two 
minutes, I’ll close the damn place up, and she can explain to the 
immigration authorities.’ 

I tried to explain that I was not the husband, I was the bride. 

‘You’re the bride^ For God’s sake, do you realise what a mess 
you’ve put the Army in^ There are a lot of things mentioned on 
this sheet that you don’t have.’ 

Hesitantly I suggested: ‘But, Captain, since it is impossible 
to change my sex to comply wdth Army report sheets, how about 
checking over the things I do have?’ This, after contemplation, 
he decided to do- 

As we approached New York, landing cards were doled out. 
The expected happened: every war bride but me received a 
card. I took a day to straighten that out. Then, as our ship 
entered the harbour, debarkation orders were distributed, and 
only the Naturalisation and Immigration Service interview still 
remained. For this I had to line up ^rith the war brides again. 
As I came before the immigration oflScer he asked: ‘"WTiere is 
your \vife? She has to appear herself.’ 

‘I’m sorry, sir,’ I mumbled. ‘There is no wife. That’s me. 
I’m listed as a female. But I can’t help it. I’m a male.’ 

‘This is most unusual,’ he said, eyeing me sternly. Then, 
resignedly, ‘Okay, here’s your stamp.’ 

As we walked down the gang%vay, and I w'as about to set foot 
on U.S. soil for the first time, a sergeant barked: ‘Hey, you, get 
the hell back on that ship!’ 

My wife stepped into the breach. ‘But, Sergeant,’ she said 
sweetly, ‘he is my war bride.’ 

‘Oh, I’m sorry, sir - uh, ma’am. \Vell, then, I guess it’s all 
right. Go ahead, keep her.’ 




Turning to the best player of the bridge four, the novice 
asked, ‘How would you have played that last hand of 
mine?’ 

‘Under an assumed name,’ was the prompt answer. 








TWO FOR A PENNY 

Condensed from 'The Grapes of Wrath' 

JOHN STEINBECK. 

Hamburger stands along Highway 66 - A1 & Susy’s Place - 
Carl’s Lunch - Joe & Minnie - Will’s Eats. Two gasoline pumps 
in front, a screen door, a long bar, stools, and a footrail. Near 
the door three slot machines, showing through glass the wealth 
in nickels three bars will bnng. And beside them, the mckel 
phonograph -with records piled up like pies At one end of the 
counter a covered case* candy, cigarettes, razor blades, aspinn, 
Bromo-Seltzer. The walls decorated with posters, blondes in 
white bathmg suits holding a bottle of Coca-Cola and smiling. 
Beer taps behmd the counter, and in back the coffee urns, shmy 
and steaming. 

Minni R or Susy or Mae, middle-ageing behind the counter, 
hair curled and rouge and powder on a siveating face. Taking 
orders in a soft, low voice, calling them to the cook ivith a 
screech like a peacock. Mopping the counter with circular 
strokes, pohshmg the big, shining coffee urns The cook is Joe 
or Carl or Al, hot in a white coat and apron, beady sweat on 
white forehead, below the white cook’s cap; moody, rarely 
speakmg, looking up for a moment at each new entry. He 
repeats Mat’s orders gently, scrapes the griddle, ivipes it doivn 
with burlap. Moody and silent. 

Mae is the contact, smihng mechamcally - unless she is serv- 
ing truck drivers. There’s the backbone of the jomt. 'NNTiere the 
trucks stop, that’s where the customers come Can’t fool truck 
drivers, they know. They bring the custom. They know. Mae 
rejilly smiles with all her might at truck drivers. 

A truck pulls up. Two men in khaki riding trousers, boots, 
short jackets, andshiny-visored mihtarycaps Screen door- slam 

H’ya, Mae’ 

Well,if It ain’t Big Bill the Rat* "When’d you get back on this 
run? 

FmlputluJiel m ‘Tke Riadtt’t Dtgaf tn ISIO 


297 



reader’s digest omnibus 


298 

Week ago. 

Mae smiles. WeU, what’s it gonna be^ 

Oh, cup a Java. Kmda pie ya got^ 

Banana cream, pineapple cream, chocolate cream - an’ apple. 

Make it apple. 

Steam spurts from the valve of the coffee um. The compressor 
of the ice machine chugs softly for a time and then stops. The 
electric fan m the comer waves its head slowly back and forth, 
sweeping the room with a warm breeze. On the highway, on 
66, the cars whiz by. 

Big Bill grasped his cup around the top so that the spoon 
stuck up between his first and second fingers He drew in a 
snort of air with the coffee, to cool it. ‘You ought to be out on 
66. Cars from all over the country. All headin’ West.’ 

‘We seen a wreck this momm’,’ his companion said. ‘Big Cad, 
a honey, low, cream-colour, special job. Hit a truck. Folded the 
radiator right back into the driver. Must a been doin’ go 
Steenn’ wheel went right on through the guy an’ lef’ him 
a-wigglin’ like a frog on a hook.’ 

A1 looked up from his griddle. ‘Hurt the trucP’ 

‘Wasn’t really a truck. One of them cut-down cars full a 
stoves an’ pans an’ mattresses an’ kids an’ chickens. Com’ West, 
you know. This guy come by us doin’ go - r’ared up on two 
wheels just to pass us, an’ a car’s cornin’ so he cuts in an’ whangs 
this here truck. Drove like he’s bhn’ drunk. Never seen such a 
mess. The air was full a bedclothes an’ chickens an’ kids Klilled 
one kid. We pulled up. Ol’ man that’s dnvin’ the truck, he jus’ 
Stan’s there lookin’ at that dead kid Can’t get a word out of 
’em. Jus’ rum-dumb. The road is full a them families goin’ 
West. Wonder where the hell they all come from?’ 

‘Wonder where they all go to,’ said Mae ‘Come here for gas 
sometimes, but they don’t hardly never buy nothin’ else People 
says they steal. We ain’t got nothin’ layin’ around. They never 
stole nothin’ from us.’ 

Big Bill, munching his pie, looked up the road through the 
screened -window. ‘Better tie your stuff down I think you got 
some of ’em comm’ now.’ 

A igsb Nash sedan pulled weanly off the highway. The back 
seat was piled nearly to the ceiling -with sacks, -with pots and 
pans, and on the very top, nght up agamst the ceiling, two boys 



TWO FOR A FENNY 


299 

rode. On the top of the car, a mattress 3uid a folded tent; tent 
poles lied along the running board. The car pulled up to the 
gas pumps. A dark-haired, hatchet-faced man got slowly out 
and the two bo)^ shd down. 

Mae walked around the counter and stood in the door. The 
man ^vas dressed m grey wool trousers and a blue shirt. The 



boys in ragged overalls and nothmg else Their faces were 
streaked wth dust They went directly to the mud puddle under 
the hose and dug their toes mto the mud. 

The man asked, ‘Gan we git some irater, ma’am?’ 

A look of annoyance crossed Mae’s face ‘Sure, go ahead.’ 
She said softly over her shoulder, T’ll keep my eye on the hose ’ 
She watched while the man slowly unscrewed the radiator cap. 

A woman m the car said, ‘See if vou can’t git it here.’ 

The man turned off the hose and screwed on the cap again 
The httle boys took the hose from him and they upended it and 
drank thirstily. The man took off lus dark, stamed hat and 
stood wth a cunous hunuhty in front of the screen. ‘Could you 
see your way to sell us a loaf of bread, ma’am” 

Mae said, ‘This am’t a grocery store. We got bread to make 
san’widges ’ 




reader’s digest omnibus 


300 

‘I know, ma’am.’ His humility was insistent. ‘We need bread 
and there am’t nothin’ for quite a piece, they say.’ 

‘ ’P we sell bread we gonna run out.’ Mae’s tone was faltering. 

‘"We’re hungry,’ the man said. 

‘WTiyn’t you liuy a san’ividge?’ 

‘We’d sure admire to do that, ma’am. But we can’t. We got 
to make a dime do all of us ’ And he said embarrassedly, ‘We 
ain’t got but a httle.’ 

Mae said, ‘You can’t get no loaf a bread for a dime. We only 
got 15-cent loafs.’ 

From behind her A 1 growled, ‘Hell, Mae, give ’em bread.’ 

‘We’ll run out ’fore the bread truck comes.’ 

‘Run out, then, goddamn it,’ said Al. 

Mae shrugged her plump shoulders and looked to the truck 
drivers to show them what she was up against. 

She held the screen door open and the man came m, bringing 
a smell of sweat with him. The boys edged in behind him and 
they went immediately to the candy case and stared in - not 
with craving or with hope or even ivith desire, but just wth a 
kind of wonder that such things could be. 

Mae opened a drawer and took out a long, waxpaper-wrapped 
loaf. ‘This here is a 1 5-cent loaf.’ 

The man put his hat back on his head. ‘Won’t you — can’t 
you see your way to cut oflf ten cents’ worth?’ 

Al said snarlingly, ‘Goddamn it, Mae. Give ’em the loaf.’ 

The man turned towards Al. ‘No, we want ta buy ten cents’ 
worth of it.’ 

Mae said resignedly, ‘You can have this for ten cents.’ 

‘That’d be robbm’ you, ma’am.’ 

‘Go ahead - Al says to take it.’ She pushed the wax papered 
loaf across the counter. The man took a leather pouch from his 
rear pocket. He dug in the pouch with a forefinger, located a 
dime, and pinched in for it. When he put it down on the counter 
he had a penny with it. He was about to drop the penny back 
mto the pouch when his eye fell on the boys frozen before the 
candy counter. He moved slowly down to them. He pointed in 
the case at big, long sticks of striped peppermint. ‘Is them penny 
candy, ma’am?’ 

Mae looked in. ‘"WTiich ones?’ 

‘There, them stripy ones.’ 


TWO FOR A PENNY 3OI 

The little boys raised their eyes to her face and they stopped 
breathing; their mouths were partly opened, their half-naJred 
bodies were rigid. 

‘Oh - them. Well, no - them’s two for a penny.’ 

‘Well, gimme two then, ma’am ’ He placed the copper cent 
carefully on the counter. The bo^'s expelled their held breath 
softly. Mae held the big sticks out. 

‘Take ’em,’ said the man. 

They reached timidly, each took a stick, and they held them 
doivn at their sides and did not look at them But they looked 
at each other, and their mouth comers smiled rigidly wth 
embarrassment. 

‘Thank you, ma’am.’ The man picked up the bread and 
went out the door, and the little boys marched stiffly behind him, 
the red-stnped sticks held tightly. They leaped like chipmunks 
over the front seat and on to the top of the load. 

The man got in and, ivith a cloud of blue smoke, the ancient 
Nash went on its way "West. 

From inside the restaurant the truck dnvers and Mae and A1 
stared after them. 

Big Bill wheeled back. ‘Them wasn’t tivo-for-a-cent candy,’ 
he said. 

‘INTiat’s that to you?’ Mae said fiercely. 

‘Them was nickel-apiece candy,’ said Bill 

‘We got to get goin’,’ said the other man. ‘^Ve’re droppin’ 
time.’ They reached m their pockets. Bill put a com on the 
counter and the other man looked at it and reached agam 
and put doivn a com. They swung around and walked to the 
door. 

‘So long,’ said Bill. 

Mae called, ‘Hey! Wait a minute. You got change.’ 

‘Go to hell,’ said Bill, and the screen door slammed. 

Mae watched them get mto the great truck, watched it 
lumber off. ‘AI — she said softly. 

He looked up from his hamburgers *\STiat ya want?’ 

‘Look there ’ She pointed at the coins beside the cups - two 
half dollars. Al ivalked near and looked, and then he went back 
to his work. 

‘Truck drivers,’ Mae said reverently. 

The cars whizzed viciously by on 66. 



The ‘little so lonesome house’ in Sweden, and what happened there 

WHEN HANNAH VAR EIGHT YAR OLD 

Condensed from The Atlantic Monthly 

KATHARINE PEABODY GIRLING 

‘ W ERE you a little girl, Hannah, when you came to America?’ 
I asked. 

‘No,’ she rephed, letting her sewing fall m her lap as her 
grave eyes sought mine slowly, ‘I var a big girl eight yar old.’ 
‘Eight years old? Does that seem to you big?’ 

‘Oh, well,’ Hannah explamed, ‘in Old Country if you are 
eight yar old and comes younger child’n in famihe, you are old 
woman; you gotta be, or who shall help de moder?’ 

‘Yes’ Did your father and mother bring you?’ I continued, 
probing for the story. 

‘No - fader and moder var daid. My h’aunt, se came for us. 
It cost her twenty-eight dollar, but se do it.’ 

‘But surely you can’t go to Sweden and return for twenty- 
eight dollars!’ 

‘Seventeen yar ago, yes, but of course you must to take your 
own providmgs. It don’t reqmre much.’ Haimah’s shoulders 
drew together expressively. ‘Madam knows se is apt to miss her 
appetite at sea!’ 

‘But too well.’ I shrugged sympathetically. Then we both 
laughed. 

‘I can to tell you how it is I came on Ahmericah, but’ - 
Hannah waited for words to express her warning - ‘it will make 
you a sharp sadness.’ 

‘Please.’ 

‘I don’t know if I can tell it to you good, but I tell it so good 
as I can My fader he var Swedish fisherman vat h’own his boat 
and go away by weeks and weeks, and sometimes comes strong 
wedder and he can’t make it to get home qmck.’ Hannah hesi- 
tated, and then m lowered tones of soft apology added, ‘My 

Ftrsl published in ‘The Reader’s DigesP in 1947 


302 



WHEK HANNAH VAR EIGHT YAR OLD 3O3 

modcT SC var a ver’ pretty woman. Var t'ree child’n more as 
me - Olga var six yar old, and Hilda four, and Jens - well, Jens 
var vust a baby, suppose yar and half. Ve hve in a little house 
dose on by de sea. It is yust a httle house, but it can to have a 
shed with a floor of stone. De door of de shed is broken so it is 
like a ^vmdow mitout glass. 



“De house is dose on by a big dock where in somer time comes 
big excursion steamer mit - suppose hundert tourist people who 
climb on de mountain up de road. My moder se sell dem hot 
cofiee, also bread and cheese, but dat is not de reason why ve 
live in de little so lonesome house. It is de big dock is de reason 
My fader he can to come home from late fishing mitout needing 
dat he sail walk on de roads In Sweden in winter de roads 
swallow snow till it makes dangersome to you to walk because 
hides holes to step in. Ve hve dere all somer, but m late autumn 
my fader he say, “^\Tiat about de winter’” 

‘Mymodersesay, “I don’t know, but anyivay ve try it vonce.” 

‘Den my fader he go aw’ay in his boat, and my moder se get 
bad cold and comes sickness on her, and ven se couldn’t to keep 
care on us by reason se is too weak, se lay on de cot m de kitchen 
room and vatch on me dat I sail learn to keep care on de 
child’n.’ 

“But w'hat did you hve on? How did you keep warm?’ 



304 reader’s digest omnibus 

‘Oh - IS plenty fuel, and ve make hot stew of dried meat mit 
rice and raisins. 

‘One day my moder se say me, “Hannah,” se say, “you bam 
a big girl; I must to tell you sometings. You fader is very late, it 
seems, and winter comes now. I cannot to wait much more. It is 
soon I got to go. You mustn’t take a fear of me if I come all 
white like de snow and don’t talk mit you any more. De httle 
child’n dey will take a fear and cry. I cannot to bring a fear on 
my little child’n.” 

‘So se tell me what I sail do — I sail close hot’ her eyes up and 
tie her hands togeder and lock de shed door.’ 

‘The shed door!’ 

‘Ya.’ 

Hannah had resumed her serving. Her thread fairly snapped 
as stitch fell by even stitch with monotonous rhythm. In quiet, 
uneventful tone she continued* 

‘So one night pretty soon se make dat I sail bring her best 
nightgown and help her mit to put it on. Den se kiss de little 
child’n in deir sleepings and se sit on a stool by de fire and say 
I sail put Jens in her arms. Se try to rock back and fort’ and se 
sing on him a httle hymn. But se is too weak, and I must to 
take him. Den se put on me a shawl and tie it behind under my 
arms, and se lean heavy on me, and we go out into de shed. 

‘My moder se do her bare feet on de stone floor. Se have yust 
but her nightgoivn on, but it is her best one mit crocheted lace 
at de neck and ivnsts. Se tell me I sail put de ironmg board 
across two chair seats, but it is too heavy and se sail try to help 
me, but comes coughing on her and se must to hold on by de 
shed door. Se look out across de road and de mountam all mit 
snow white and mit moonlight cold. And blood is on her lips, 
but se wipe it away mit a snow bunch. Well, anyway, ve do de 
ironmg board across de chair seats and I spread a white sheet 
and put a head cushion and my moder he do^vn and I cover 
her mit a more other sheet over. 

‘ “Oh, moder,” I say, “let me make some warm covering on 
you.” 

‘ “No,” se say, so soft dat I listen mit my ear, “I must to come 
here while I yet have de stren’th, but I want to go quick away, 
and in de cold I go more quick. Oh, Hannah!” se say, “my big 
daughter! You are so comfortable to me!” 


WHEN HANNAH VAR EIGHT YAR OLD 3O5 

‘So I hold my moder’s hand. Pretty soon it comes cold. I dap 
it mit mme, but it comes more cold. I crumple it up and breathe 
my hot breath m it, but it comes not warm any more. So mit my 
fader’s Sunday handkerchief I bind her eyes like if you play 
Bhndman mit de child’n, and nut an apron string I tie her 
hands togeder. Den I go back and make my hands warm in de 
kitchen room and I take de comb down off de string, and I go 
back to my moder and make her hair in two braids like as I did 
all when se was sick. Aly moder se haf very strong hair; it is 
doum by her knees on and so yellow — so yellow as a copper 
teakettle! It could to haf been red, but it yust are not. Den I 
lock de shed door and crawl in bed mit de child’n to make me 
warm. 

‘Next day I tell de child’n dat moder is gone away. Dey cry 
some, but pretty soon dey shut up. Anyivay, it is so long se haf 
lam on de cot m de kitchen room dat dey don’t haf to miss her. 

‘So I keep care on de child’n and play mit dem and some 
da)s go by. Comes a stronger wedder mit storms of sleet, and 
snow, and de i%-ind sob and cry. Gomes nobody on. At night 
when de child’n are sleepmg I unlock de shed door and go to 
see if it makes all right mit my moder. Sometimes it is by de 
moonlight I see on her, but more often it is by a candle glimmer.’ 

Hannah broke the subdued tone of her narrative to add m a 
lower, more confidmg note, ‘It is mit me now dat when I see a 
candle on light I haf a sharp sadness 

‘Pretty soon de wedder is more better, and comes a man 
tromphng troo de snow to tell my moder dat her husband can’t 
come home - he is droivned in de sea. AN’hen he see how it is mit 
my moder and imt me and de httle child’n, de water stands in 
his eyes-ya. And he go on, troo de snow, t’ree, four mile 
nearer on de city to de big castle where live de lady vat h’owm 
all de land and se come in sleigh imt four horsen and big robes 
of fur and ymghng bells. Se see on my moder and se go quick 
aw'ay, but so soon as it can, se come again and se do on my 
moder a w’hite robe, heav)' mit lace, most beautiful* And white 
stockings of silk and white slippers broidcred mit pearlen. Se 
leaf my moder’s hair, as I fix it, m two braids, but se put a 
ivreath of flowers, wWte and green, yust like de real ones. Is 
few real flowers in Sweden in ivmter. Anyway, dese var like de 
flowers a girl vat gets mamed should to wear. 



reader’s digest omnibus 


306 

‘Den my lady se send her sleigh dat all de people should come 
and see on de so brave woman vat couldn’t to bnng a fear on 
her little child’n. And de people dey make admiration on my 
moder. Dey say it is de prettiest dey ever see it, and dey make 
pity dat se couldn’t to see it herself.’ She paused and breathed 
deeply. ‘I wish se could have to seen dose shppers*’ 

‘And did no one tell you that you were a wonderful little 
girP’ 

‘Oh, veil - 1 var eight yar old.’ 

‘But what became of you alP’ 

‘My lady took us home m her sleigh imt - 1 want to stay nut 
my moder, but se say I sail come to keep care on de child’n dat 
dey don’t cry. And dey don’t cry - dey laugh mit de yinghng 
bells. De need' was on me strong, but I don’t cry before my 
lady. Se var great dame vat go in de court mit de queen. Se 
sent men and dey do my moder in a coffin and carry her to a 
little chapel house in cemetaire and in de spring ven de snow is 
gone dey bury her. My lady se put a white stone mit my moder’s 
name and some poetry - I can’t to say it good in English, but it 
says, “De stren’th in de heart of her poor is de hope of Sweden.” ’ 

‘And then did your aunt come^’ 

‘Ya, my lady se wrote on my fader’s broder vat var in 
Ahmericah. Se say we can to stay mit her, but my oncle he 
send his wife, and we come back mit her on Ahmericah.’ 

0 ) 0(5 

WHAT PRAYER CAN DO 

Condensed from Cuideposts 
FULTON OURSLER 

One spring mormng when I was a small boy, my mother dressed 
me up in my Sunday best and warned me not to leave the front 
steps. 

‘We’ll be walking over to see your aunt,’ she promised. 

I waited obediently until the baker’s son from the comer shop 
came along and called me a sissy. Then I sprang from the steps 

First published m 'The Reader’s Digest' in 1951 



WHAT PRAYER CAN DO 307 

and whammed him on the ear. He shoved me into a mud 
puddle, splotching my white blouse with slime and leaving my 
stocking iMth a bloody hole at the knee. Hopelessly I began to 
bawl 

But my gnef was stilled at a sudden tinkle of bells. Down the 
street came a pedlar, pushing his jingling green cart - ‘Hokey- 
pokey ice cream, a penny apiece.’ Forgetting my disobedience, 
I ran mto the house and begged my mother for a penny. Never 
can I forget her answer: 

‘Look at yourself! You’re in no condition to ask for anything.’ 

Many a harum-scarum year went by before it dawned on me 
that often, when we ask for help from God, we need to take a 
look at ourselves; we may be m no condition to ask Him for 
anything. 

Behevers admit no limits to what the power of prayer can do, 
and e\'en sceptics uho study the results with an open mind 
become impressed ivith the potency of faith. But if his prayers 
are to be ansivered, a man has to meet his Maker half-way. 

‘The trouble is that most prayers are not honest to God,’ 
declares a psychologist, a man of no rehgious faith ‘People 
have the ungraaous audaaty to ask for heavenly handouts 
although they are not on speaking terms wth their next-door 
neighbour, they have forbidden relatives their house; they are 
spreaders of gossip and envious detractors of their best friends. 

‘To feel free of bitterness one must be nd of mahce, resent- 
ment, env>', jealousy and greed, which are certain causes of 
mental illness and even physical disease. Simply by obeying the 
scnptural rule to be reconciled to our brother before prayer, we 
can wash away these breeding germs of neuroses and psychoses. 
Honest-to-God prayer is a kind of mental health insurance.’ 

In his Self-Improvement Handbook Norman Vmcent Pcale gives 
two hmts on how to forgive. 

(r ) ‘Repeat the Lord’s Prayer inserting your offender’s name: 
‘Forgive me my trespasses as I forgive Henry Jones.’ 

(2 ) ‘Speak to others in a kindly manner about the person 
against whom you harbour antagomsm.’ 

The more we can free our hearts of grudges and enmities, 
the closer we come to the supreme goal of inner peace. Then 
we begin to realise that prayer is infinitely more than an appeal 



reader’s digest omnibus 


308 - 

for personal favours. It is itself the greatest of all gifts; an ever- 
richer expenence, a continuous feeling of being in harmony 
with the constructive forces of the universe. It brings the 
wonders of ‘visiting God’ to the hfe of the humblest man of 
faith. And that sense of di^dne companionship will powerfully 
influence his thoughts and actions. 

A young American Indian left his Huron tribe in northern 
Wisconsin to be educated in city schools. He became a lawyer 
and the green forests saw him no more, until in middle life he 
returned for a hunting and fishing vacation. Presently his 
woodsman gmde noticed that at every sundown the Indian 
vanished for an hour. One day, beset with curiosity the guide 
trailed him. 

From behind the low spread of a hemlock tree, he watched 
the Indian build a fire m an open clearing; saw him balance a 
log across two stones on one side of the fire and place another 
such bench on the opposite side, then seat himself on one of the 
logs and stare into the blaze. 

The guide started to walk towards the fire, w’hen the Indian, 
seeing him, held up restraining hands. Without a word he 
arranged another log and invited the gmde, by a gesture, to 
join in his vigil. For half an hour the two remained together in 
complete silence. 

After they had returned to camp and eaten supper, the 
Indian explained the mystery: 

‘When I was a child my mother taught me to go oflF by 
myself at the end of each day and make a place for a visit of the 
Great Spirit. I was to think back over my actions and thoughts 
of the day. If there was anything of w'hich I was ashamed, I 
must tell the Great Spirit I was sorry and ask for strength to 
avoid the same mistake agmn. Then I would sleep better that 
night. I had forgotten all about it, but here, among these tall 
trees where I played as a boy, I have found my lost faith. I have 
not known such peace since I was a child. And from now on I 
shall somehow manage to visit the Great Spirit every day.’ 

Ezio Pinza, the great Italian opera singer, who starred m the 
musical play South Pacific, has his own story about the pathway 
to peace: 

‘On the night before South Pacific opened,’ said Pinza, ‘I told 
Mary Martin if she could not sleep because of nervousness to 



WHAT PRAYER GAN DO 3 O 9 

do what I’d found best - get up, dress and go to the nearest 
church. “Just sit there in church,” I said, “and soon all your 
nerv^ousness i\t11 vanish, as if it had been smoothed away.” God 
has been so good to me and my career has been so crowded with 
great luck Aat I turn to Him ail the time. Others may fail; 
God never WTien I explained this to Mary she started to cry, 
and It was on this note that our fiiendship was founded.’ 

Commumon with the infimte is of solid value in our most 
practical affairs. I know of a manufacturer who likes to drive 
back and forth to work so that he can think about business 
problems ivithout interruption 
‘One morning,’ he relates, ‘I suddenly realised that problems 
were alwaj's coming up that I had not anticipated How could 
I think about crises before they ever happened^ Only by prayer. 
Right there I began to pray that I might meet ivisely and well 
the problems of the day ahead. I arrived at my office feeling 
refreshed and confident, and I had one of my best days. I soon 
realised that I had hit upon a wonderful technique. Instead of 
praymg to get pulled out of troubles, I was now conditioning 
myself in advance to make calm, rational and sound decisions 
on any problem that came up * 

The divine promise, ‘Ask and ye shall receive,’ does not 
guarantee that you ivill receive exactly what you ask for. Often 
ive do not knoiv ivhat is good for us; the old Greeks had a 
proverb that ivhen the gods were angry with a man they gave 
him what he wanted. Many of us have lived to be thankful that 
our prayers were demed. The wise person adds a proviso to 
every request. ‘Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done ’ 
There w'as Rosahe, the daughter of a poor Parisian, who 
showed early promise of becommg a great artist. But an artist 
needs more than promise. Rosahe w'anted to draw from hfe and 
her father had no money to pay for a model. Very earnestly the 
girl prayed for enough firancs to pay for a model’s hire, but no 
show’er of money rained dowm on her backyard. 

One day, as she was taking a ivalk, she had a sudden feeling 
that everything was going to be all right. Near a crow’ded 
market-place she noticed a farmer’s dray horse hitched for the 
day behind a \egetable stall. He would not object to being her 
model - not if Rosa did not mind drawmg a horse' In the 
Metropolitan Museum of Art in New' York Citj- there now hangs 

I. 



reader’s digest omnibus 


310 

a world-known canvas. The Horse Fair. It was painted by Rosa 
Bonheur, impenshably famed for her masterpieces of horses. 

As horizons broaden, we learn to ask less for ourselves and to 
remember the needs of others, both friends and enemies - 
healing for the sick, comfort for the grieving, help for the jobless, 
mercy for all. ‘God make thee beautiful within,’ was Plato’s 
prayer for those he loved. 

^^^len the late Laurette Taylor was starring in her last 
Broadway play, The Glass Menagene, her friends knew that she 
was in poor health. They knew also that she had quarrelled 
with her co-star, Eddie Dowling. 

One midsummer matinee, in the course of a scene near a 
table at which Dowhng was seated. Miss Taylor suddenly 
swayed and grabbed a chair for support. The company manager, 
feanng that she had been about to faint, rushed back to her 
dressing-room as soon as the curtain fell. 

‘I’m all right,’ Laurette assured him. ‘It was just that some- 
thing happened on stage that nearly knocked me off my pins 
We were playing the part where Eddie is supposed to be trying 
to wnte something while I am scolding him. I happened to 
look over his shoulder and saw that he really was svnting - and 
what he was writing was a prayer. ''Dear God -please make 
Laurette well and strong, and help us to be friends again.” ’ 

That prayer broke a black spell between the rival stars Later 
I learned that for months at every performance Eddie Dowling 
had been ■writing prayers for fhends and foes during that same 
scene. ‘It kept my mind sweet - which it badly needed,’ Eddie 
told me. 

Even the old hostility of science is beginning to be tempered 
by a respect for the incomprehensible mysteries of faith. Only 
a few months ago. Dr Robert ^'lillikan, 82-year-old Nobel 
Prize \vinner, and head of the California Institute of Technology, 
told a group of leading physicists that a lifetime of scientific 
research has con'vmced him that there is a Divinity that is 
shaping the destiny of man. No scientist has delved more 
deeply into the mechamsms of matter than Millikan. It was he 
who first determined the charge and mass of the electron, the 
smallest particle in the universe. In his recent speech he said' 

‘Just how we fit into the plans of the Great Architect and 
how much He has assigned us to do, we do not know, but if we 



WHAT PRAYER. CAN DO 3II 

fail in our assignment it is pretty certeim that part of the job 
will be left undone. 

‘But fit in we certainly do somehow, else we would not have 
a sense of our own responsibihty. A purely matenahstic 
philosophy is to me the height of unintelligence.’ 

As by an infallible instinct, great men of all ages turn to 
God for help They seem to by-pass mtellectual doubt, finding 
a short cut to umversal truth. No one has ever expressed it 
better than Abraham Lincoln* T have had so many evidences 
of His direction, so many instances w’hen I have been controlled 
by some other pow’er than my mvn will, that I cannot doubt 
that this power comes from above. I frequently see my "way 
clear to a decision when I am conscious that I have not 
sufficient facts upon which to found it . . I am satisfied that, 
when the Alnughty wants me to do, or not to do, a particular 
thing, He finds a ivay of letting me know it . . I am a full 
bebever that God knows what He w’ants men to do, that w'hich 
pleases Him. It is never well with the man who heeds it not. 

‘I talk to God,’ Lincoln w*ent on to say. ‘My mind seems 
reheved when I do, and a ivay is suggested ... I should be the 
venest shallow and self-conceited blockhead, in my discharge 
of the duties that are put upon me in this place, if I should hope 
to get along without the \visdom that comes from God and not 
from man.’ 

The hardest-headed sceptic can, through prayer, test this 
guidance for himself. Let him try it as Lincoln did. He may 
undertake the expenment as an unbeliever, but with an open 
mind, seeking to learn for himself what prayer can do I 
predict for him a senes of happy surprises. 


The daughter of a wealthy Hollyivood producer was 
asked at school to ivnte a story about a poor family Her 
essay began ‘Once upon a time there was a poor family. 
The mother was poor. The daddy was poor. The children 
were poor. The butler was poor. The chauffeur was poor 
The maid ivas poor. The gardener was poor. Everybody 
was poor.* 



PETRONELLA 

Condensed from The Johannesburg Star 
A. G. MCRAE 

I STOOD m the dusty pound at Lydenburg, South Africa, and 
watched the unwanted donkeys being put up for sale. Most of 
the unfortunate animals were sold, and I didn’t hke the way 
their new owners took possession, thrashing their purchases 
before ever a task was set them and their ivillingness tested. 
One by one, and in small groups, the little pilgrims were set on 
the dreary road that leads through labour and starvation to 
merciful death. 

At last there was only one left, an old grey jenny ivith one 
eye blinded and one tom ear hanging loppily from its middle. 
She was covered with ticks, her knees were bent and her head 
himg down. A picture of dejection. 

A young native bid sixpence for her and laughed raucously. 
I was prospecting for gold at the time and almost dowm but not 
out, for I still had my tools and six shilhngs in cash. I had 
intended buying a bag of meal and supplementing my sugar and 
coffee supply. But now I knew that I must buy the aged jenny 
and sacrifice a precious cartridge as well. Between the eyes and 
a little above, and she’d never know what lut her. 

I raised the bidding to a shilling and watched my extra coffee 
go down the drain The other fellow bid one and three. I sent 

Ftra published tn 'The Header’s Dtgesf in 1931 


312 



PETRONELLA 


313 

my sugar ration after the coffee and upped it threepence more. 
2v£y opponent made a scornful remark and slouched off; 
the donkey was mine to release through the barrel of my old 
Smith and ^Vcsso^, as soon as we could get out of town For 
no reason at all I named her Petronella. 

Getting her out of town %vasn’t going to be easy, by the look 
of her, so I dug into my pack for some salt, which is ambrosia 
to asses the world over Her good ear pricked up as I held the 
dainty under her muzzle Her nose MTiiakled ecstatically as she 
cnmdied it, and she emitted those curious, death-rattle-hke 
sounds which m the asinine etiquette indicate pleasure. With 
more salt on my palm, I led her aivay and up the road. 

It is bad manners to can-j' a gun in town, so the old Smith and 
Wesson w as in my pack ^\Tien w'C came to a sufficiently remote 
spot I transferred its holster to my belt. 

The action reminded Petronella of goodies and she edged 
nearer ingratiatmgly. I gave her a htde salt and then, for some 
qmte inexplicable reason, I fastened my pack on her emaciated 
back She pricked her good ear forward and started off up the 
mountain trail m front of me as a well-trained pack ammal 
should. Gone was the air of dejection, and gone, too, the bent 
and trembhng knee. In place of the sorry moke m the pound 
w'as a frail but determined old lady, loved and ready to get back 
to the sort of task she understood. She brought a curious kind 
of digmty to her labour. 

I thought ‘Well, if she gives me any trouble or looks like 
fallmg, I’ll bump her off, but it’s mce not having to carry the 
pack.’ Even then I knew I could no more shoot Petronella 
than fly 

She ga\e me trouble all right. The very first mght she 
chew ed my pack about, trjmg to get at the salt inside. The next 
mght, after w'e had made camp, she disappeared I tliought: 
‘Good riddance’, but then I started ivorrymg in case she had 
broken a leg, or a snake had bitten her, and so I spent half the 
mght searching. 'WTien I finally gave up and returned, she was 
lying next to the ashes of my fire, chewing away at the pack 
once more After that I stopped w'onying, and in the year during 
which she and I fossicked around she often went off on her own 
for a feiv hours, but ahvays came back in time to carry her load 

She invented a httle game after she felt she knew me w'ell 



reader’s digest omnibus 


314 

enough to take liberties. 'WTienever we approached a spinney 
where the bush was thick, she w'ould gallop ahead and hide m 
it. Ha\Tng found the sort of cover she needed to fool me, she 
would stand dead still while I fumed and fretted, usually ^ 
within a couple of yards of her hide-out. After half an hour of 
this kind of fun she would bray derisively, to show me w'here 
she had been all the time, and then trot up and nuzzle at my 
pockets, demandmg a rew’ard for being so darned clever. 

Those were halcyon days, for our needs were small and the 
country' supplied most of them. Long, hot days and clear, cool 
nights, rain sometimes, but always followed by the drying-out 
sun and wind. "We loiew thirst, too, but never badly, for 
Petronella’s instinct was infallible and all I had to do was give 
her her head and follow her lean little rump to a water-hole. 

One day an old fellow turned up with a whole string of 
donkeys, and one of them was a jack. Petronella should have 
know'n better, at her age. But girls will be girls, and in due 
course the horrible truth became obvious - Petronella was 
about to become a mother. 

^Vhen her time was near, I had to go into Lydenburg on 
urgent business, and so I left her in charge of a boy I thought I 
could trust. I returned inside a %veek, late at night and during 
a terrific storm. I went to look for my boy to find out how 
Petronella fared. He had disappeared, and so had most of my 
kit. I stumbled around in the mud and rain, ^vaiting for flashes 
of lightning to show me where the jenny was. And then I heard 
the jackals )ip-yapping and snarhng on a plateau above the 
spnng. 

I got there just too late, for the brutes had tom at the little 
body of the foal as it w'as bom, and it died as I lifted it up 
Petronella had fought them ofiT for as long as she w'as able. She 
w'as in a temble state, her muzzle ripped and her flank savaged. 
Carrying the dead foal I led her back to the shack and bedded 
her dowTi w'here I had light to see to dress her wounds. 

All next day she follow'ed me about like a dog, and when I 
stopped she pressed her head against my thigh, her misery too 
much to bear alone. She would not eat or drink, and her one 
fear seemed to be that I would go away and leave her again. 
She died on the evening of the second day after my return, "tvith 
her maimed ear pressed against my side and her poor, thin 


SEVEN REASONS VrSY A SCSENTIST BELIEVES IN GOD 315 

flatiTc heaving less and less, until it finally went quite flat and 
was still 

I dug a deep hole where no gold would ever be found and 
cheated the jackals by laying hea\'y rocks over her body and 
over the closed grave as well. I buned the child of her dotage 
inth her. 

As I did so I remembered the black cross etched over her 
withers, the beam straight down her spine and the bar crucifix 
from side to side. Coloured servants in the Cape used to tell us, 
long ago, that the mark w'as imprmted on the hides of grey 
donkeys because once The Man rode one in tnumphant 
hunuhty before mankind. 


SEyEN REASONS WHY A SCIENTIST 
BELIEVES IN GOD 

Adapted from the book *Man Does Kot Stand Alone' 

A. GRESSY MORRISON 

^Ve are Still in the dawn of the scientific age and every increase 
of light reveals more bnghtly the handiwork of an intelhgent 
Creator. In the go years since Danvin w'e have made stupendous 
discoveries, with a spint of scientific humility and of faith 
grounded in knowledge we are approaching even nearer to an 
aw’areness of God. 

For myself, I count seven retaons for my faith: 

First' By unwavering mathematical law we can prove that our 
universe was designed and executed by a great engineering Intelligence. 

Suppose you put ten penmes, marked from one to ten, into 
y'our pocket and give them a good shuffle. Now try to take them 
out in sequence from one to ten, putting back the com each time 
_and shaking them all again. Mathematically we know that 
your chance of fust drawing number one is one to ten, of 
drawing one and t\NO in succession, one to lOo; of drawing one, 
tw’o and three in succession, one m a thousand, and so on; your 
chance of drawing them all, from number one to number ten 

first fviixs}‘td in *The Reader^s •« 1946 



3i6 reader’s digest omnibus 

in succession, would reach the unbelievable figure of one chance 
in ten thousand inillion- 

By the same reasoning, so many exacting conditions are 
necessary for hfe on earth that they could not possibly exist in 
proper relationship by chance. The earth rotates on its axis one 
thousand miles an hour; if it turned at one hundred miles an 
hour, our days and nights would be ten times as long as now, 
and the hot sun would then burn up our vegetation each 
long day while in the long mght any surviving sprout would 
freeze. 

Again, the sun, source of our life, has a surface temperature 
of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and our earth is just far enough 
away so that this ‘eternal fire’ warms us just enough and not too 
much! If the sun gave off only one-half its present radiation, we 
would freeze, and if it gave half as much more, we would 
roast. 

The slant of the earth, tilted at an angle of 23 degrees, gives 
us our seasons; if it had not been so tilted, vapours from the 
ocean would move north and south, pihng up for us continents 
of ice. If our moon was, say, only 50 thousand miles away 
instead of its actual distance, our tides would be so enormous 
that twice a day all continents would be submerged; even the 
mountains would soon be eroded away. If the crust of the earth 
had been only ten feet thicker, there would be no oxygen, 
ivithout which animal hfe must die. Had the ocean been a 
few feet deeper, carbon dioxide and oxygen would have been 
absorbed, and no vegetable hfe could exist. Or if our atmosphere 
had been much thinner, some of the meteors, now burned in 
space by the millions every day, would be striking all parts of 
the earth, setting fires everywhere. 

Because of these and a host of other examples, there is not 
one chance in millions that life on our planet is an accident. 

Second: The resourcefulness of life to accomplish its purpose is a 
manifestation of all-pervading Intelligence. 

What hfe itself is, no man has fathomed. It has neither 
weight nor dimensions, but it does have force, a growing root 
will crack a rock. Life has conquered water, land and air, 
mastering the elements, compelling them to dissolve and reform 
their combinations. 

Life, the sculptor, shapes all living things; an artist, it 



SEVEN REASONS WTIY A SCXENTIST BELIEVES IN GOD 317 

designs every leaf of every tree, and colours every flo^\e^. Life 
IS a musician and has taught each bird to sing its love songs, the 
insects to call each otlier in the music of tlieir multitudinous 
sounds. Life is a sublime chemist, giiang taste to fruits and 
spices, and perfume to the rose, changing -water and carbomc 
acid mto sugar and -wood, and, in so doing, releasing oxj'gen 
that animals may have the breath of life. 

Behold an almost miosible drop of protoplasm, transparent, 
jelly-hke, capable of motion, draivmg energ)’ from the sun. This 
single cell, this transparent mist-hke droplet, holds within itself 
the germ of life, and has the power to distribute this life to 
every h\ang thing, great and small. The powers of this droplet 
are greater than our vegetation and animals and people, for 
all Ide came from it. Nature did not create life, fire-bhstered 
rocks and a saltless sea could notmcet thenecessary requirements 
"i\Tio, then, has put it her^ 

Tlurd* Animal zuisdom speaks trreststibly of a good Creator who 
infused instinct into otherwise helpless little creatures 
'The young salmon spends years at sea, then comes back to 
his owm river, and travels up the very side of the nver into 
which flows the tributary where he was bom \\Tiat bnngs him 
back so precisely? If you transfer him to another tributary he 
will know at once that he is off his course and he wnll fight his 
w'ay down and back to the mam stream and then turn up 
against the current to finish his destiny accurately. 

Even more difiicult to solve is the m^’sterj'- of eels These 
amazmg creatures migrate at maturity from all ponds and 
nvers everjn\ here - those from Europe across thousands of 
miles of ocean - all bound for the same abysmal deeps near 
Bermuda. There diey breed and die. The little ones, wath no 
apparent means of knowmg anything except that they are in 
a wdldemess of water, nevertheless start back and find them 
W'ay' not only' to the very' shore from which their parents came 
but thence to the nvers, lakes or httle ponds -so that each 
body of water is alw'ays populated with eels No American eel 
has ever been caught in Europe, no European eel in American 
w’aters. Nature has even delayed the matunty of the European 
eel by a year or more to make up for its longer journey'. ^\Ticre 
does the directing impulse originate^ 

A wasp will overpower a grasshopper, dig a hole in the earth, 



reader’s digest omnibus 


318 

sting the grasshopper in exactly the right place so that he does 
not die but becomes unconscious and lives on as a form of 
preserved meat. Then the wasp will lay her eggs handily so that 
her children when they hatch can nibble mthout killing the 
insect on which they feed; to them dead meat would be fatal 
The mother then flies away and dies; she never sees her young 
Surely the wasp must have done all this right the first time and 
every time, else there would be no wasps. Such mystenous 
techniques cannot be explained by adaptation; they were 
bestowed. 

Fourth: Man has something more than animal instinct -the power 
of reason. 

No other anirrfel has ever left a record of its ability to count 
ten, or even to understand the meaning of ten. WTiere instinct 
is like a single note of a flute, beautiful but limited, the human 
brain contains all the notes of all the instruments in the 
orchestra. No need to belabour this fourth point; thanks to 
human reason we can contemplate the possibihty that we arc 
what we are only because we have received a spark of Umversal 
Intelligence. 

Fifth Provision for all living is revealed in phenomena which we 
know today but which Darwin did not know — such as the wonders of 
genes. 

So unspeakably tiny are these genes that, if all of them 
responsible for all living people in the world could be put in one 
place, there would be less than a thimbleful. Yet these ultra- 
microscopic genes and their companions, the chromosomes, 
inhabit every hving cell and are the absolute keys to all human, 
ammal and vegetable characteristics. A thimble is a small place 
in which to put all the individual characteristics of two thousand 
million human beings. However, the facts are beyond question. 
Well, then - how do genes lock up all the normal heredity of a 
multitude of ancestors and preserve the psychology of each m 
such an infinitely small space? 

Here evolution really begins - at the cell, the entity which 
holds and carries the genes How a few milhon atoms, locked 
up as an ultra-microscopic gene, can absolutely rule all life on 
earth is an example of profotmd cunning and provision that 
could emanate only from a Creative Intelligence; no other 
hypothesis will serve. 



SEVEX REASONS WHY A SCIENTIST BELIEVES IN GOD 319 

Sixth* Bj the economy of nature, vce are forced to realise that only 
tnfimts unsdom could have foreseen and prepared with such astute 
husbandry. 

Alany years ago a species of cactus was planted* in Australia 
as a protective fence. Ha\ing no insect enemies m Austraha 
the cactus soon began a prodigious g^o^\*th; the alarming 
abundance persisted until the plants covered an area as long 
and wde as England, crowding inhabitants out of the toivTis and 
\Tllages, and destroying their farms. Seeking a defence, the 
entomologists scoured the world; finally they turned up an 
insect iihich hved exclusively on cactus, and would eat nothing 
else. It would breed freely too; and it had no enemies in 
Australia. So animal soon conquered vegetable and today the 
cactus pest has retreated, and with it all but a small protective 
residue of the insects, enough to hold the cactus m check for 
e\er 

Such checks and balances have been universally pro\-ided. 
"Why have not fast-breeding insects dominated the earth? 
Because they have no lungs such as man possesses; they breathe 
through tubes But when insects grow large, their tubes do not 
grow m ratio to the mcrcasmg size of the body Hence there 
never has been an insect of great size, this limitation on growth 
has held them all in check. If this physical check had not been 
provided, man could not exist. Imagine meeting a hornet as 
big as a lion! 

Seventh. The fact that man can concave the idea of God is in itself 
a unique proof. 

The conception of God rises from a divine faculty* of man, 
unshared with the rest of our world - the faculty* we call 
imagination By its power, man and man alone can find the 
evidence of things unseen The vista that power opens up is 
unbounded; indeed, as man’s perfected imagination becomes a 
spintual reahty*, he may discern m all the evidences of design 
and purpose the great truth that heaven is wherev'er and what- 
ever; that God IS ev*ery'where and in everything but nowhere so 
close as in our hearts. 

It IS scientifically* as well as imaginatively true, as the 
Psalmist said . The heavens declare the glory of Cod and the firmament 
skowetk Hu handiiLork. 



‘MY NINETY ACRES’ 


Condensed from ^Pleasant Valley' 

LOUIS BROMFIELD 

I HAD a friend, an old man, who lived in Possum Run Valley 
on a farm known as ‘My Nmety Acres’. Years ago when \Valter 
Oakes was young, everybody used to speak of ‘My Ninety 
Acres’ with a half-mocking, half-affectionate smile, because 
"Walter always talked as if it were a ranch of many thousand 
acres or a whole empire. But as time passed the mockery went 
out and ‘Aly Ninety Acres’ became simply the name of the 
farm. 

Old "Walter had a right to speak of it with pride It wasn’t a 
bright new place, but the small white house -with its green 
shutters looked prosperous, the huge fire-red bam was magnifi- 
cent, and there were no finer cattle m the whole county. 

The place had a Mid natural beauty. The patches of la^vn 
were kept neatly mowed but surrounding them grew a jungle 
of old-fashioned flowers and shrubs. Beyond the neat vegetable 
garden the romantic shaggmess continued. The Mre along the 
fence rows v/as hidden beneath sassafras and elderberry and 
Mid black raspberr\% The place was shaggj' not because ^Valter 
was lazy or a bad farmer - there v.-as no more hard-working 
man in the v/hole Valley - but because ^Valter wanted it like 
that, "Walter and Nellie. 

I never saw Nelhe Oakes, but my father told me she had been 

Ftrd puc^ shsd ir ‘The Reader*s tn 1945 


320 



‘my ninety acres’ 


321 

the prettiest girl in the Valley. She taught school until, at 22, 
she married "Walter. People wondered why she chose "Walter, 
who had only 90 acres of poor hill land he had just bought, 
when she coiild have had any catch of the Valley. But I know 
from all the long story it was simply because she loved him. 

In the parlour of the little house on ‘hly Ninety Acres’ there 
hangs an enlarged hand-coloured photograph of "Walter and 
NeUie taken at the time of their marriage. The bnde and 
bridegroom are stiff as statues. "Walter, stalwart and handsome 
and gentle, stands with one big muscular hand on Nellie’s 
shoulder. She sits on a chair in front of him in a white dress 
•with leg-o’-mutton sleeves and a frill flounced skirt - dark, wrth 
big eyes, holdmg in her small hands a lace handkerchief and 
a bunch of lilacs. She looks beautiful and mtelligent. Old 
people still say, in the Valley, ‘Nelhe Oakes was the only 
woman I ever knew w’ho was as smart as she w^as pretty.’ 

Nellie died when her second son, Robert, was bom. But 
sometimes when my father and I walked about the fields of 
*My Ninety Acres’ tvith Walter and his boys, I wasn’t at all 
sure she w'asn’t there, enjojing the beauty and richness as much 
as Walter himself. ‘Nellie w'2inted me to put this field into 
pasture but we couldn’t afford not to use it for row crops,’ he 
would say, or, ‘It’s funny how’ many good ideas a %\oman can 
have about farming. Now, Nelhe alivays said . . .’ Sometimes 
I’d return to the house almost belie\'ing that I would find there 
the Nelhe w'ho was dead before I ivas bom, w’aiting with a good 
supper ready. 

Walter never married agam, though a good many wdows 
and spinsters set their caps for him. He didn’t leave ‘My 
Ninety Acres’ save to go into tow’n or to church on Sunday with 
the boys, John and Robert. 

I used to fish and s^vim with the boys, and got to know them 
w’ell. But I w’ent away from the county w'hen I was 17 and I 
w’as gone 25 years. The war came, and in it John w'as killed at 
St- 2 Mihiel. Robert came back from the war, but he did not 
stay on the farm. Ambitious always, he became president of a 
corporation and made milhons. He tried for years to get his 
father to give up the farm and live in the city or in Florida, but 
Walter alw’a^’s refused. 

In the first w'eeks after I came home I never thought about 


is waiter uaKes stiu aiivc^ i asKea. 

‘AliveJ’ came the reply. ‘I’ll say he’s alive. The livest old man 
in the county. You ought to see that place. He raises as much 
on it as most fellows raise on five times that much land.’ 

The next Sunday I tramped over the hills to ‘My Ninety 
Acres’. As I came down the long hill above the farm I thought, 
‘This is the most beautiful farm in America.’ 

It was June and the herd of fat Cattle stood knee-deep in 
alfalfa, watching me. The com was waist-high and vigorous 
and green, the oats thick and strong, the wheat already turning 
a golden-yellow. 

As I went down towards the creek I saw old "Walter with two 
sheepdogs mo\ang along a fence row. I stood for a moment, 
watching. The old man would walk a little way, stop, part the 
bushes, and peer into the tangled sassafras and elderberry. 
Once he got down on his knees and for a long time disappeared 
completely. 

Finally, the barking of the dogs as they came towards me 
attracted his attention. He stopped and peered, shading his 
eyes. 

‘I know,’ he said, holding out his hand, ‘you’re Charlie 
Bromfield’s boy.’ 

I said I’d been trying to get over to see him and then he 
asked, ‘And your father? How’s he?’ 

I told him my father was dead. ‘I’m sorry,’ he said, very 
casually as if the fact of death was nothing. ‘I hadn’t heard. I 
don’t get around much.’ Then suddenly he seemed to realise 
that I must have seen him dodging in and out of the fence row. 
A faint tinge of colour came into his face. ‘I was just snoopin’ 
around “My Ninety Acres”. Nelhe always said a farm could 
teach you more than you could teach it, if you just kept your 
eyes open. . . . Nelhe was my wife.’ 

‘I remember,’ I said. 

Then he said, ‘Come and I’ll show you something.’ 

I followed him along the fence row and presently he knelt 
and parted the bushes. ‘Look!’ he said, and his voice grew 
suddenly warm. ‘Look at the little devils.’ 

I could see nothing but dried broivn leaves and a few 


They sat in a Kttle arcle in a nest, none of them much bigger 
than the end of one of old Walter’s big thumbs - seven tim 
quail. They never mo\ed a feather. 

Old Walter stood up. ‘They used to laugh at me for letting 
the bushes grow up in my fence roi\s.’ He chuckled. ‘Last year 
Henry Talbot lost ten acres of com all taken by chincli bugs. 
Henry doesn’t leave enough cover along his fence roivs for a 
grasshopper. He thinks that’s good farming!’ He chuckled 
again, ‘^\'hen the chinch bugs come along to eat up m-y com, 
these little fellois-s ivill take care of ’em.’ 

"We ^^ere -walking now towards the house. ‘Nellie had that 
idea about lettm’ fence rows grow up. I didn’t beliei e her at 
first. But I alwa^'s finmd out that she v.as pretty right about 
farmin’.’ 

At the house, old "Walter said, ‘Come in and we’ll have a 
glass of buttermilk. It’s cooler in the sittin’ room.’ The butter- 
milk was such as I had not tasted in 30 years - creamy, icy cold 
with little flakes of butter in it. 

*you’re li-ving here alone?’ I asked. 

‘Yes.’ 

I started to say something and then held my tongue, but old 
"Walter di-vined w'hat I meant to ask ‘No. It ain’t lonci) . Nellie 
used to say she didn’t understand the talk of these w’omen who 
said they got lonely on a farm. Nellie said there was alwa>’s 
calves and horses and dogs and lambs and pigs and that their 
company w'as about as good as most of them women who 
talked that w’ay.’ 

The Sunday afternoon ^^sits to ‘My Ninety Acres’ became a 
habit, for I found that old Walter knew' more of the funda- 
mentals of soil, of crops, of hv«tock than an> man I ha\e ever 
knowm. ^Ve were not always alone on those Sunday walks 
because neighbours and e\en farmers from a great distance 
came sometimes to see Walter’s farm and hear him talk about 
it. As he told the history of this field or that one, and v hat he 
had learned firom each, a kmd of fire w’ould come into the blue 
eyes. 

One day Robert came on his annual -visit, and droie oxer to 
see if I could help persuade the old man to retire ‘He’s 75 now 


324 reader’s digest omnibus 

and I’m afraid something "will happen to him alone there m 
the house or bam. But he’s stubborn as a mule and won’t quit. 
This morning he was up at daylight and husking com in the 
bottom field by seven o’clock.’ 

We were both silent for a time sitting on the porch over- 
looking the Valley. The green ivinter wheat was springing into 
life m the fields beyond the bottom pasture where the Guernseys 
moved slowly across the blue grass. ‘Honestly, Bob,’ I said, ‘I 
don’t see why we should do anything. He’s happy, he’s tough 
as nails, and he loves that place like a woman.’ Then, hesitantly, 
I said, ‘Besides, Nellie is always there looking after him.’ 

A startled look came into the son’s eyes. ‘Do you feel that 
way too^’ 

I said, ‘Nelhe is everywhere m that “Ninety Acres”. She’s 
out there husking com with him now.’ 

‘It’s the damnedest thing,’ Robert said. ‘Sometimes I think 
the old gentleman gets Nellie and the “Ninety Acres” a little 
mixed up.’ 

We finally agreed that there wasn’t anything to be done. I 
said I’d keep my eye on old ^Valter. And so every day for two 
years I, or somebody from the place, went over. 

One Sunday afternoon in early September he and I were 
walking alone through one of his cornfields. It was fine com, 
and as we came near the end of a long row, he stopped before a 
mighty single stalk which had two huge nearly ripened ears and 
a third smaller one. Old Walter stopped and regarded it with 
a glowing look in his blue eyes. 

‘Look at that,’ he said. ‘Ain’t it beautiful? That’s your hybrid 
stuff ’ His hands ran over the stalk, the leaves and the ears. ‘I 
wish Nelhe could have seen this hybnd com. She wouldn’t have 
beheved it.’ 

As I watched the big work-worn hand on the stalk of corn, 
I understood suddenly the whole story of Walter and Nelhe 
and the ninety acres'. The rough hand that caressed that com 
was the hand of a lover. It was a hand that had caressed a 
woman who had been loved as few ^vomen have been loved, so 
deeply and tenderly that there could never have been another 
woman to take her place. I knew now what Robert’s remark 
about Nellie and the ninety acres getting mixed up had meant. 


aj! 4; 



■AND SDDDEN DEATH 


325 

It happened at last. I went over one afternoon and when I 
could not find old Walter or the dogs anyvshere I returned to 
the house. I heard scratching and whitung in the ground-floor 
bedroom, and when I opened the door one of the sheepdop 
came tcrvvards me. The other dog lay on the hooked rug beside 
the bed, his head between his pai\s. On the bed lay old Walter. 
He had died qmetly while he t^^as asleep 

'iValter was biuied beside Nelhe m the Valiev churchyard 

« * 

Robert wouldn’t sell ‘hly Ninet\' Acres’. I undertook to farm 
it for him, and one of our men went there to hve But it mil 
never be fanned as old Walter farmed it. There isn’t an) body 
who ivill ever farm that earth agam as if it w'cre the only 
woman he ever loved. 


« ■ 

—AND SUDDEN DEATH 

J. C. FURNAS 

Publicising the total of motoring injuries - almost a million 
last year, wnth 36,000 deaths - never gets to first base in jarring 
the motorist into a reahsation of the appalling nsks of motonng. 
He does not translate dry statistics mto a rcahty of blood and 
agony. 

Figures exclude the pain and horror of savage mutilation - 
which means they leave out the pomt They need to be brought 
closer home A passing look at a bad smash or the news that a 
fellow you had lunch wnth last w eek is in a hospital with a broken 
back mil make any driver but a bom fool slow down at least 
temporarily. But w'hat is needed is a virid and sustained realisa- 
tion that every time you step on the throttle, death gets in 
beside you, hopefully w aiting for his chance That single horrible 
accident you may have witnessed is no isolated horror That 
sort of thing happens every hour of the day, everywhere in the 
United States If ) ou really felt that, perhaps the stickful of 1)^30 
in 2 iIonda)’s paper recording that a total of 29 local citizens 
w'ere killed in week-end crashes would rate something more 
than a perfunctory tut-tut as you turn back to the sports page. 


firsf in *Tke Rtadcr^s Digesf in 1935 


reader’s digest omnibus 


326 

An enterpnsing judge now and again sentences reckless drivers 
to tour the accident end of a city morgue. But even a mangled 
body on a slab, wzixily portraying the consequences of bad 
motoring judgment, isn’t a patch on the scene of the accident 
Itself No artist ivorking on a safety poster would dare depict 
that in full detail. 

That picture would have to include motion-picture and 
sound effects, too - the flopping, pomtless efforts of the injured 
to stand up; the queer, grunting noises; the steady, panting 
groaning of a human being with pain creeping up on him as 
the shock wears oflT. It should portray the slack expression on 
the face of a man, drugged with shock, staring at the Z-twist m 
his broken leg, the insane crumpled effect of a child’s body after 
its bones are crushed inward, a realistic portrait of an hysterical 
woman with her screammg mouth opening a hole in the bloody 
dnp that fills her eyes and runs off her chin. Minor details 
would include the raw ends of bones protruding through flesh 
in compound fractures, and the dark red, oozing surfaces where 
clothes and skin were flayed off at once. 

Those are all standard, everyday sequels to the modern pas- 
sion for going places in a hurry and taking a chance or two by 
the way. If ghosts could be put to a useful purpose, every bad 
stretch of road in the United States would greet the oncoming' 
motorist with groans and screams and the educational spectacle 
of ten or a dozen corpses, all sizes, sexes and ages, lying horribly 
still on the bloody grass. 

Last year a state trooper of my acquaintance stopped a big 
red Hispano for speeding. Papa wzis obviously a responsible 
person, obviously set for a pleasant week-end with his family - 
so the officer cut into papa’s well-bred expostulations . T’ll let 
you off this time, but if you keep on this way, you won’t last 
long. Get going - but take it easier.’ Later a passing motonst 
hailed the trooper and asked if the red Hispano had got a ticket. 
‘No,’ said the trooper, ‘I hated to spoil their party.’ ‘Too bad 
you didn’t,’ said the motonst, ‘I saw you stop them - and then I 
passed that car again 50 miles up the line. It still makes me feel 
sick at my stomach. The car was all folded up like an accordion 
— the colour was about all there was left. They were all dead 
but one of the kids - and he wasn’t going to live to the hospital.’ 

Maybe it will make you sick at your stomach, too. But unless 


— AND SUDDEN DEATH 


327 

you’re a heavy-footed incurable, a good look at the picture the 
artist wouldn’t dare paint, a first-hand acqu^tance wdth the 
results of mixing gasoline with speed and bad judgment, ought 
to be well worth your while. I can’t help it if the facts are 
revolting. If >^00 hav'e the nerv'e to drive fast and take chances, 
you ought to have the nerve to take the appropnate cure. You 
can’t ride an ambulance or v\'atch the doctor working on the 
victim in the hospital, but you can read. 

The automobile is treacherous, just as a cat is It is tragically 
difficult to realise that it can become the deadliest missile. As 
enthusiasts tell you, it makes 65 feel like nothing at all. But 65 
an hour is 100 feet a second, a speed which puts a vaciously 
unjustified responsibility on brakes and human reflexes, and 
can instantly turn this doale luxury into a mad bull -elephant. 

Ckilhsion, turnover or sideswipe, each type of accident pro- 
duces either a shattenng dead stop or a crashing change of 
direction - and, since the occupant - meaning you - continues 
in the old direction at the original speed, every surface and 
angle of the car’s interior immediately becomes a battenng, 
tearing projectile, aimed squarely at you - inescapable. There 
is nobracing) ourselfagamst these impcrativ e law s of momentum. 

It’s like going over Niagara Falls m a steel barrel full of rail- 
road spikes. The best thing that can happen to vou - and one of 
the rarer things - is to be thrown out as the doors spnng open, 
so )ou have only the ground to reckon with. True, you strike 
with as much force as if you had been thrown from an express 
tram at top 'speed But at least you arc spared the lethal array 
of gleaming metal knobs and edges and glass inside the car. 

An>Thmg can happen m that split second of crash, even those 
lucky escapes you hear about. People hav e dived through wind- 
screens and come out with only superficial scratches They have 
run cars together head on, reducing both to twisted junk, and 
been found unhurt and arguing bitterly two minutes aftenvards. 
But death was there just the' same - he was only exercising his 
privilege ofbeing erratic. This spring a wrecking crew pnsed the 
door off a car which had been overturned down an embank- 
ment and out stepped the dnver with onh a scratch on his 
cheek But his mother was still inside, a splinter of wood from 
the top driven four inches into her brain as a result of son’s 
taking a greasv* curv'e a httle too fast. No blood - no hombly 


328 reader’s digest omnibus 

twisted bones -just a greyhaired corpse still clutching her 
pocket-book in her lap as she had clutched it when she felt the 
car leave the road. 

On that same curve a month later, a light touring-car crashed 
a tree. In the middle of the front seat they found a nme-months- 
old baby surrounded by broken glass and yet absolutely unhurt. 
A fine practical joke on death -but spoiled by the baby’s 
parents, still sitting on each side of him, instantly killed by 
shattering their skulls on the dashboard. 

If you customanly pass without clear vision a long way ahead, 
make sure that every member of the party carries identification 
papers - it’s difficult to identify a body with its whole face 
bashed in or tom off. The driver is death’s favourite target. If 
the steering wheel holds together it ruptures his hver or spleen 
so he bleeds to death internally. Or, if the steenng wheel breaks 
off, the matter is settled instantly by the steering column’s 
plunging through his abdomen. 

By no means do all head-on collisions occur on curves. The 
modem death-trap is likely to be a straight stretch \vith three 
lanes of traffic - like the notorious Astor Flats on the Albany 
Post Road where there have been as many as 27 fatalities in one 
summer month. This sudden vision of broad, straight road 
tempts many an ordinarily sensible driver into passing the man 
ahead. Simultaneously a driver coming the o^er way swings 
out at high speed. At the last moment each tnes to get into line 
again, but the gaps are closed. As the cars in line are forced into 
the ditch to capsize or crash fences, the passers meet, almost 
head on, in a swirling, gnnding smash that sends them cannoning 
obliquely into the others. 

A trooper described such an accident - five cars in one mess, 
seven killed on the spot, two dead on the way to the hospital, 
two more dead in the long run. He remembered it far more 
vividly than he wanted to - the quick way the doctor turned 
away from a dead man to check up on a woman with a broken 
back; the three bodies out of one car so soaked with oil from 
the crankcase that they looked like wet, brown cigars and not 
human at all; a man, walking around and babbling to himself, 
obhvious of the dead and dying, even oblivious of the dagger- 
like sliver of steel that stuck out of his streaming wnst; a pretty 
girl wth her forehead laid open, trying hopelessly to crawl out 



— AND SUDDEN DEATH 329 

of a ditch in spite of her smashed hip. A first-dass massacre of 
that sort is only a question of scale and numbers - sc\ en corpses 
are no deader than one. Each shattered man, \\ oman or diild 
who went to make up the 36,000 corpses chalked up last year 
had to die a personal death. 

A car careemng and rolhng down a bank, battering and 
smashing its occupants every inch of the tvTiy, can wTap itself so 
thoroughly round a tree that front and rear bumpers interlock, 
requirmg an acetylene torch to cut them apart. In a recent 
case of that sort they found the old lady, •who had been sitting 
in the back, lying across the lap of her daughter, who w as in front, 
each soaked in her otvn and Ae other’s blood indistinguishabh , 
each so shattered and broken that there was no point t\hatcvcr 
in an autopsy to determine w’hcthcr it was broken neck or 
ruptured heart that caused death 

Overturning cars spcciahse m certain injuries. Cracked pchns, 
for instance, guaranteeing agonising months in bed, motionless, 
perhaps cnppled for life -broken spine resulting from sheer 
sideivise twist - the minor details of smashed knees and splintered 
shoulder blades caused by crashing into the side of the car as 
she goes over \rith the swirl of an insane roller coaster - and the 
lethal consequences of broken ribs, which puncture hearts and 
lungs ivith their raw ends The consequent internal hemorrhage 
is no less dangerous because it is the pleural instead of the 
abdominal cavity that is filhng wth blood. 

’ Flying glass - safety glass is by no means universal yet - con- 
tributes much more than its share to the spectacular side of 
accidents. It doesn’t merely cut - the fragments arc dri\cn in as 
if a cannon loaded wth broken bottles had been fired in your 
face, and a sliver in the eye, travelling tvith such force, means 
certain blindness. A leg or arm stuck through the wndshicld 
trill cut clean to the bone through vein, artery and muscle like 
a piece of beef imder the butcher’s knife, and it takes little time 
to lose a fatal amount of blood under such circumstances Even 
safety glass may not be wholly safe t\hen the car crashes some- 
thing at high speed. You hear picturesque talcs of how a fl>nng 
human body wll make a neat hole in the stuff wth its head - 
the shoulders stick - the glass holds - and the rat\ , keen edge of 
the hole decapitates the body as neatly as a guillotine. 

Or, to continue wth the decapitation motif, going off the 



reader’s digest omnibus 


330 

road into a post-and-rail fence can put you beyond worrying 
about other injunes immediately when a rail comes through the 
windshield and tears off your head with its sphntery end - not 
as neat a job but thoroughly efficient. Bodies are often found 
with their shoes off and their feet all broken out of shape. The 
shoes are back on the floor of the car, empty and with their 
laces still neatly tied. That is the kind of impact produced by 
modem speeds. 

But all that is routine in every American community. To be 
remembered individually by doctors and policemen, you have 
to do something as grotesque as the lady who burst the ^vlnd- 
shield with her head, splashing splinters all over the other 
occupants of the car, and then, as the car rolled over, rolled 
with It down the edge of the windshield frame and cut her 
throat from ear to ear. Or park on the pavement too near a 
curve at night and stand in front of the tail light as you take off 
the spare tyre -which will immortalise you in somebody’s 
memory as the fellow who was mashed three feet broad and 
two inches thick by the impact of a heavy duty truck against 
the rear of his own car. Or be as original as the pair of youths 
who were thrown out of an open roadster this spring - thrown 
clear -but each broke a windshield post with his head in 
passing and the whole top of each skull, down to the eyebrows, 
was missing. Or snap off a nine-inch tree and get yourself 
impaled by a ragged branch. 

None of all that is scare-fiction; it is just the homble raw 
material of the year’s statistics as seen in the ordinary course of 
duty by policemen and doctors, picked at random There is 
little dissimilarity in the stories they tell. 

It’s hard to find a surviving accident victim who can bear to 
talk. After you come to, the gnawing, searing pain throughout 
your body is accounted for by learning that you have both 
collar bones smashed, both shoulder blades splintered, your nght 
arm broken in three places and three nbs cracked, with every 
chance of bad internal ruptures. But the pain can’t distract 
you, as the shock begins to wear off, from realising that you are 
probably on your way out. You can’t forget that, not even when 
they shift you from the ground to the stretcher and your broken 
nbs bite into your lungs and the sharp ends of your collar bones 
slide over to stab deep into each side of your screaming throat. 



GH.AKD CAXYOS 


331 

^Vhen you’ve stopped screaming, it all comes back~\ou’rc 
dying and >ou hate yourself for it. That isn’t fiction, cither. It's 
what It actually feels like to he one of that 36,000. 

And every time you pass on a blind cune, every time vou 
hit it up on a slipperj’ road, every time -s ou step on it harder 
than your reflexes isill safely take, e\er>' time >ou dri\c mth 
your reactions slowed doira b) a dnnk or tivo, c\CTy time >ou 
follow the man ahead too closely, you’re gambling a few seconds 
against this kind of blood and agony and sudden death. 

Take a look at ^-ourself as the man m the uhite jacket shakes 
his head over you, tells the boys inth the stretcher not to bother 
and turns airay to somebody else who isn’t quite dead yet. -And 
then take it easy. 




GRAND CANYON 

DOKALD CULROSS PEATTIE 

/ 

To A vast and incomparable sohtude, known the world over, 
come the great and the simple of earth, all in a spint of man cl 
A maharajah, his retinue at a respectful distance; a troop of 
Swedish students with knapsacks on their backs; an Indiana 
w’oman of go in her wheel chsur, a millionaire whose name is a 
household word, walking apart here wnth his son back from 
years of battle; the Shah of Iran, refusing bod\guards and 
Secret Service men that he might be alone with Allah’s handi- 
w ork, travellers from every state m .America, from c\ cry countn 
m Europe and Asia they' come, pilgrims to a shnne that is 
greater ^an creed. 

The Grand Canyon of America’s Colorado River is one of 
the wonders of the world, unsurpassed in vastness, antiquiti 
and splendour. Of all the world’s spectacles no other has its 
power to still the restless pulse and uplift the human sou! 

Buried in the remote deserts of the North -American continent, 
reached only by a long detour w’hethcr by tram or car. the 
Canyon is ne\crtheless N’lsitcd at the South Rom alone by as 
many as 7,000 tra\ellcrs a It guards its awcsomcncss from 

Fin* tn Tkf Feeder s tn 1931 


332 reader’s digest omnibus 

sight up to the last moment. It gives no hint of its presence as 
you approach for miles over imperceptibly rising land, through 
sage-brush and then through pines. At last you are walking 
towards it; still you do not see it - and in the next moment you 
have stepped to the terror and grandeui of its brink. 

Here is immensity; almost another dimension. In this abyss, 
a mile deep and ten miles wide, the chasms drop away into 
farther depths that disappear into a night of deeps like the 
ocean’s. Here are colours raised to a soundless shout - smoulder- 
ing reds, purples of shadow recessed into a fathomless past, 
yellow dunes and shores of seas that vamshed ages ago. Far 
down where a ghnt of the river shows, lies sullen black rock - 
Archean rock, the scientists call it, the oldest known to us. 

Up from those nethermost realms comes welhng silence. 
Seldom can you hear the roar of the river, second longest in 
the Umted States and fiercest in the world. You cannot catch 
the patter, like applause, from the leaves of the cottonwoods 
on the shelf-like plateau below you For all sounds are swallowed 
in this gulf of space. ‘It makes you want to whisper,’ I heard a 
woman near me murmur to her compamon 

This is a silence not of death; rather it is a presence. It flows 
into you like great music. But music made of man works up to a 
climzix and ceases; the Grand Canyon is all climax, a chord 
echoing into eternity. 

For that fourth dimension you feel in the Canyon is, of course, 
time - time in unstmted measure. It took the Colorado River, 
with its tributaries, several million years to cut the Grand 
Canyon. Yet the river is a newcomer; it didn’t even begin to 
flow until seas of past ages, here in these Arizona wastes, had 
come and gone several times, laying down beds of sediment. 
But before the seas there were those Archean rocks, once the 
roots of mighty mountains, formed when the earth was young. 
That was two thousand million years ago, the geologists esti- 
mate. So here at the Canyon, in a single view, is revealed more 
of the history of earth than an^^vhere else in the world. 

The grinding might of the river, which carries a million tons 
of sediment a day, the cold chisel of frost and the little blades of 
ram together have cut this great cross-section of the past Testi- 
mony written in rock is here laid bare for science to read. 
Indeed, at one glance, you perceive that there is a magnificent 



GRAND CANYON 


333 

order running through these fantaries in stone, these reckless 
outpourings of brilliance. The same bands of rock, distinct in 
thickness and colour and angle, can often be traced along the 
217 miles of the Cannon’s length Like a great siain\-a\ the 
alternating chffs and plateaux lead the eye up, as one geologic 
step succeeds another, from the age of chaos, before there is-as any 
life, right into the sunshine of the present, where the pondcrosa 
pmes stand tall in the dry Arizona air, where the browsing deer 
gaze mildly, where wild flowers dance to the \cx\ rim, and 
the mind of man ventures forth to imderstand the bcautt it 
beholds. 

Perhaps the most spectacular feature of the Grand Canxon is 
the great Redwall limestone chff about half-wa\ up the chasm, 
almost vertical throughout the Canyon's length and averaging 
550 feet m height. Really a grey-blue hmestone, its surface has 
been stained to this sunset hue by iron salts washing out of the 
rocks The purity of this limestone indicates that it was formed 
in a wide and quiet sea, full of beautiful sca-shells and fish of a 
type no longer known. 

Above the great Redw’aU come alternating lav ers of red sand- 
stone and shale, a thousand feet m thickness, which show the 
fossils of insect wings and fern fronds and the quaint, stubby -toed 
tracks of extinct animals related to our frogs Then there must 
have followed a long period of desert conditions for the next 
layer, pale-hued, seems to have been formed by viind-blown 
sands The topmost layers arc a yellowish limestone, laid down 
m warm seas, we can be sure, because so manv shark’s teeth 
and corals have been found fossilised in them. 

For ages untold after the nver came the Canvon grew, glow- 
ing with summer's fires, glistening with winter’s snows, time 
passing over it hkc the shadows of the clouds that give it its 
ever-changing expressions. In the fullness oftliat time came men 
to hve in its shelter, prehistonc red men whose dwelling-places, 
more than 500 of them, have been found m the side canyons A 
thousand years, perhaps, these tribes hv ed here. .And after they 
were gone there passed nearly' a thousand more vears before a 
little band of wearv' Spamards, soldiers of Coronado, stumbled 
to the nm and saw the Canyon first of white men 

Then came Spanish missionaries American trappers and 
explorers. Always the Canyon awed and baffled them; they 



reader’s digest omnibus 


334 

could not find a way do\vn its sides, and because of its great 
length it forced them hundreds of toihng miles out of their way 
into the deserts. Then in 1858 bold young Lieut. Joseph 
Ives, having forced his way m a steamboat up-river to the site 
of the present Hoover Dam, led his little party of Army engineers, 
guided by Mohave Indians, afoot into the depths of the Grand 
Canyon. Here he visited the friendly Havasupai tribe which 
lived then, and still lives, in one of the side canyons, where the 
climate is sub-tropical the year round. ‘Ours has been the first 
party,’ reported Ives, ‘to visit this profitless locality.’ Then 
he added the rash prediction that it would doubtless be the 
last. 

Today, and every day, a mule train bearing tourists and 
supplies descends Bright Angel Trail from the South Rim to the 
Canyon’s floor. There lies Phantom Ranch, complete with 
swimming pool. Here the trail crosses the raging Colorado by a 
suspension bridge and moxmts to the North Rim, wherjg/the 
Union Pacific Railroad maintains a summer hotel rivalling the 
fine accommodations on the South Rim where the Santa Fe line 
comes in. 

Though these two resorts face each other across but 12 un- 
bridgeable miles, it IS a journey of 214 miles by car from one to 
the other. Nor can you visit the North Rim in any but the 
summer season; some 1,200 feet higher than the South Rim, it 
has a delightful climate in July and August under the shade of 
aspen, spruce and fir, but is wnter-bound with ten to fifteen 
feet of snow much of the year. 

But there is no day in the year that you may not visit the 
South Rim, and find the sun warm upon the cheek, the air like 
dry wine, perfumed with the inceiise of pinon smoke from a 
Hopi Indian hearth. Here in a few paces you may step forth 
from the confines of your everyday life and face the fact of the 
Canyon - the grandest and most boldly stated fact on earth. As 
down and down through rock of ages the river has cut, it has 
revealed to us how life comes up and up And through the 
beholder surges a sense of the power of the divine will The 
Grand Canyon is a sight Avith the impact of revelation I came 
here an atheist, said philosopher Hendnk van Loon, and departed a 
devout believer 


Condensed from Holiday 


PHIL STONG 

There was a tune ^vhen ‘going to the Fair’ meant a night 
journey in a truck wth all the family and with a hog or a 
blue-blooded bull or a few sho%\ -worthy, bad-tcmpcrcd fo\\ls 
crated up beside the baskets ofqmnccjell> and angel-food cake 
which made up the womenfolk’s stake m the Fair. You 
pretended to be asleep in spite of the jolting, but all the time 
you had your eyes fixed on the sky ahead for the first light from 
the fair-grounds Ofcourse>ou did fall asleep at last; and when 
you woke up there was the Fair, and the camp-ground ■waiting 
for \ou. 

TTiat is one way to go - and perhaps the best wav. But there 
are other good wavs, by tram or bus, and b) big saloons 
(76,000 cars were parked at the Iowa State Fair last \car) 
and even by planes flashing along from all the spolcs of the 
compass towards the fair-grounds For one week in August each 
7 ear since 1854 (except for the interruption of war) the State 
Fair has been the capital of Amcnca’s Com Belt, the site 
of the greatest food festival in the world Last vear it was 
celebrated by more than half a million people through 
whose efforts most of America - and a good deal of Europe - 
cats. 

The glow from the Fair warms the returning native long 
before it can be seen. He can feci it in the club car running 
wcstisard out of Chicago. The car is full of other pilgnms to tlic 

FinJ in r« tn 1?4S 




reader’s Digest omnibus 


336 

Fair. Not the fanners, who have created the Fair and to whom 
it belongs, but visitors and acolytes from outside who assist 
at the ceremonies m every way, from setting up radio stations or 
selling cotton candy or guessing people’s weight to looking over 
the stock exhibits for the Department of Agnculture or making 
a survey of Four-H Clubs for the Farm Bureau. There -will be a 
sprinkling, too, of research men from the eastern agncultural 
colleges. 

The porter, who has travelled this road for years with State 
Fair passengers, knows when to turn the radio on, and at the 
first words from the loudspeaker every head m the car goes 
up. ‘Temperature 102. Tomorrow and Wednesday, fair and 
warmer.’ Everybody grins. Good Fair weather. 

Nobody knov/s why the Fair does its best business in a 
temperature just under boding. But a comfortably cool grey 
day cuts the box-office receipts in half. Without the sun, lowans 
just won’t make merry. 

There are 378 acres of grounds -full of stock pavilions, 
exhibition and industrial buildings, small concessions, the 
grandstand and the Midway -four million dollars’ worth of 
permanent installations The judging of livestock begins at 
8 a.m , there are harness and running races and rodeos all 
afternoon, and at mght there is a' big show at the grandstand, 
wth fireworks till 11 One has to keep moving not to miss 
anythmg; and one has to eat every two or three hours to combat 
exhaustion. 

An English photographer sent by a New York magazine to 
cover the Fair in 1946 spent Fair Week in a daze. So many 
acres of shiny parked automobiles. Farmers buying Piper Cubs 
and hehcopters. ‘But where are the wagons and bicycles?’ he 
asked. ‘And why are all these city people here?’ They were not 
city people, but plain farmers, sohd, prosperous, well dressed. 

Though the Fair is strictly a family outing, the family 
separates after breakfast. The men and the youngsters flock 
to the livestock bams - except for those who already are 
installed there, sleeping in the upstairs dormitories or on a cot 
alongside Blue Boy or Lord Lard, or Jersey Jimo who won the 
blue ribbon last year for milk production. If a family member 
IS showing any of these lordly creatures he will be busy all day. 

Swine and sheep and cattle and horses have to be cumed, 


STATE FAIR 


337 

fed, \\-atered, cheered up and, above all, kept cool. The stock 
pavilions are the most carefully designed. sohdK built and best 
ventilated of all the Fair bmldings. They house tenants \\hc«c 
value runs into so many imlhons that c\cn the State Fair 
publicity office hesitates to estimate it. *Nobod\ -would believe 
us,’ they say. These pedigreed animals arc delicate and ncr\ ous. 
It IS not unusual to see a pretty girl sponging the face of a mean- 
looking buU, while her own face streams sweat that she doesn't 
bother to wipe aw’ay. 

The stock people will not soon forget the £^ 1^00 Berkshire 
boar that m 1947 minced daintily around the judging nng, 
acquired lus blue nbbon, cake-w’alkcd back to his stall and lav 
down dead. 

The senous-mmded, college-educated younger generation of 
farmers w’ho come in such numbers arc seldom seen in the 
grandstand or on the Midway, congregate in the stock-show 
buildings and before the industrial exhibits A new machine 
may affect tlie working hours and the production of millions 
of farmers throughout the whole Missoun Vallc>. Scientific 
mastodons like the combine, the hay baler and the corn picker 
have revolutionised farm life; even a minor gadget like the 
gimlet post-hole digger has saved untold mamhours m the few 
jears since it was introduced at the Iowa State Fair. 

These machines are what the men look at And these arc the 
beneficent robots that may save the world b\ feeding it The 
women at the Fair, also, arc bent on feeding the world, or 
their section of it. They find ample excitement in the IVoincn’s 
and Children’s Building, whidi houses home economics and 
hobby exhibits, a recreational centre, bab\ -health contests and 
a day nursery'. 

Here one learns the newest magic of pressure cookery and 
home freezing and vitamin juggling. A male intruder, escaping 
the hissing pressure cookers, may blunder into a room full of 
gargantuan, hostile infants competing for the bab> -health 
prizes. Fleeing these, he can hardly avoid a fariiion show, 
or a concert of musicians who call themselves the Mother 
Singers If he dashes across the hall he is likclv to step Into a rapt 
circle of females staring at a woman on the platform who is 
making a Flower Arrangement out of two golden glows and a 
stalk of Jimson weed. Or he may burst into the auditorium just 


338 reader’s digest omnibus 

in time to see a herd of tunicked ladies doing a determined folk 
dance. 

Outside, the bands play, the midget railway tram careens 
round the park, and now that the judging of livestock and 
jams and pickles is over for the day everybody is heading for 
the grandstand to see the vaudeville, and the horse and auto 
races, which are lOo per cent moral because betting is not 
allowed. 

By half-past five, ^vith nothing to stick to one’s ribs since 
lunch but seven hot dogs, four hamburgers, a cubic foot of 
cotton candy, three sacks of popcorn and assorted pops, colas 
and ades, one is beginmng to look forward to the baked hickory- 
smoked ham or the fhed chicken, mashed potatoes and pie a la 
mode that even now are being served in the dining halls and 
tents dotted about the fair-grounds. 

By half-past six the girls from the Four-H dormitories are 
coming out in pink and yellow dresses, after a long day in jeans; 
the Four-H boys and their Des Moines cousins are sauntering 
around in clean white flannels, looking sidewise at the girls; 
and even the women who have flower-arranged and mother- 
sung and pressure-cooked aU day are weanng thm, pale dresses 
and silly hats over their pink plump faces, and showing a 
tendency to giggle. 

The Midway is always the same, and always new. Dwarfs, 
giants, tattooed men, hairy apes are here. Old Fair-goers would 
be grieved and disappointed if any of the^ traditional shows 
were missing. If the prizes at the rifle gallenes and the hoop- 
throwing stands were anythmg but hideous and useless, that 
would be unfitting too. 

The barkers have changed somewhat; the words and the 
sleekness are the same, but their voices are lower now and 
smoother. They have learned from Frank Sinatra. Either you 
come in and see Zotz, the \\Tiat-is-it, or you feel you have 
broken a nice boy’s heart. 

The girl shows are right and proper, too, though grass skirts 
and bras and sequined panties may be scantier than ever and 
the motions of the dance less inhibited. 

A new girl show appeared on the Midway in 1947 - just one 
girl. People saw and stopped before the pitch of Sally Rand, and 
at a rate of 10,000 every evening they bought tickets and went 



STATE FAIR 


339 

in to see her. The dance is beautiful, and Sally herself, only a 
lovely clean-cut face abo\ e the slo^^l^ -mo\-ing ostrich plumes, is 
a neu kind of State Fair enchantress Even the i\omen like her. 
‘She looks like such a nice girl,’ they said Matrons i\ho expected 
to drag Father a\\ay from her in time for the fireworks have to 
be dragged themselves 

Fireuorks conclude the show. Tuo ^ears ago they displayed 
Bikini under the atom bomb. Outlined in lights, the tiny 
Pacific island rocked, quivered, exploded and burned under its 
mushroom of coloured smoke. 

.\t last the croud begins to pick up handbags and slip tired 
feet back into cast-oflf shoes. But the p^gmy man is speakmg 
again into his amplifier. 

‘Folks, Criends, please -a moment. Before we disperse from 
this glonous celebration, one small request. Will you all, each 
of you, fish in your pockets and your purses for a match, a 
cigarette fighter. ^Vait \\’hen the band blows one resounding 
note, fight up. Send forth a litde candle in a naughty world.’ 

The response is umversal. Men dig match books from their 
pockets, hand some to women who do not smoke. Then a 
tremendous squawk of vanous instruments, and from one end 
of the long grandstand to the other tiny fights spring out, 
pin-pointed like a quilt of luminous stitches Under the roof, 
people are lisible as in daylight And they sigh, from 30,000 
throats 

The Fair, breaking up for the night, flows in two directions 
The larger current moves towards the parking field and the 
street-car lines For 5,000 lowans, however, there is a shorter, 
happier path to bed If you are one of these, you turn left when 
you lea% e the grandstand and w’alk past the Midway and the 
Old Mill and the roller coaster; past the shuttered dining halls 
and the lemonade stands. 

Your path climbs a dark hillside, past the glimmer of 
nineteenth-centun' white gingerbread outlining the old Exposi- 
tion Building Tliat is the building \ou always see in your mind’s 
eye when you think of the Fair. It has alwa^'s been there since 
you saw it first from your father’s shoulder. You hope it alwa)'s 
will be. 

The sleeps guard at the entrance to the camp-ground nods at 
you and turns his stile, and \ou are almost home. This is the 



reader’s digest omnibus 


340 

unchanging Fair. That was a good tent site that Grandfather 
staked out in 1892, near the top of the hill where the breeze 
could reach it under fine shade trees, and near the spring. The 
spring has not been so important these 40 years since they built 
the bath-houses and put in faucets everywhere. But it still flows 
and its water will make the best boiled coffee in the world 
tomorrow mom. 




THE SIZE OF LIVING THINGS 

Excerpts from The Atlantic Monthly 
JULIAN S. HUXLEY 

Size, which we are so apt to take for granted in ourselves and 
m the orgamsms about us, is one* of the most serious problems 
with which evolving life has had to cope. 

The largest organisms are vegetables, the big trees of Gah- 
fomia, -with a weight of nearly 1,000 tons. The largest animals 
are whales, some of which considerably exceed 100 tons m 
weight. They are not only the largest existing animals, but by 
far the largest which have ever existed, for the monstrous reptiles 
of the secondary period, which are often supposed to hold the 
palm for size, could none of them have exceeded about 50 tons. 

The largest invertebrates are to be found among the molluscs ; 
some of the giant squids weigh two or three tons. The mnner-up 
among the invertebrates is, strangely enough, a certain huge 
jellyfish \vith a disc over seven feet across and 18 inches thick 
and great bulky tentacles five feet long hanging doivn below. 
One of these weighs as much as a good-sized horse. "What we 
might call the most successful of all invertebrates, the ants, 
never reach more than one gram m weight. The largest ant 
colonies known possess a imlhon or so inhabitants. This whole 
population would weigh about as much as one large man. 
Indeed, the small size of most insects is at first hearing barely 
credible. If you bought an oimce of fleas, you would have the 
pleasure of receivmg over 80,000 of them! 

Ftrsi published %n 'The Head^s Digesff tn 1930 


THE SIZE OF LIVIXG THISGS 34I 

Nature seems to have found it unprofitable to construct a 
vertebrate out of less than several himdred million cells. Within 
the groups there is great variation. It is a surprise, for instance, 
to find a frog that eighs as much as a fox temer. It is a still 
greater surprise to know that there exist fully formed adult 
insects -a beetle or two, and several wasp-hke creatures -of 
smaller bulk than the human ovum and yet with compound 
eyes, a nice nervous s^'stem, three pairs of jaws and three pairs 
of legs, veined w-ings, striped muscles, and the rest* It is rather 
unexpected that the smallest adult vertebrate is not a fish, but a 
frog; and it is most unexpected to find that the lai^est elephant 
would have ample clearance top and bottom inside a large 
whale’s skm. 

The great bulk of land vertebrates range firom ten grams to 
100 kilograms in w'eight. IVhy is this narrow range so 
popular? 

A disadvantage in being very small is that you are not big 
enough to be out of reach of annoyance by the mere inorganic 
molecules of the emironment. The molecules of a fluid like 
water are rushing about in all direebons They run against any 
object in the w'ater, and bounce off again W’hcn the surface of 
the object is big enough for there to be thousands of such colli> 
sions every’ second, the laws of probability wall see to it that the 
number of bumps on one side will be closely equal to that on 
the other, the steady average resulting w’e call fluid pressure 
But when the diameter of the object falls to about one-thousandth 
of a millimetre, it may easily happen that one side receives a 
rain of bumps while the other is spared. The result is that the 
smallest organisms are kept in a constant St Vitus’s dance, 
christened Brownian movement after its discoverer 

It is impossible, however, simply to magnify an object without 
changing its shape - if you do so, without meaning to, you have 
changed all its properties. For the surface increases as the square 
of the diameter, the volume as its cube. And so the amount of 
surface relative to bulk must diminish with size. A big Afncan 
elephant is one million times as hea\y as a small mouse But the 
amount of surface for each gramme of elephant is only one- 
hundredth of W’hat it is in the mouse. 

The most faimliar effect of this surface-volume relation is on 
the rate of falling. The greater the amount of surface exposed 

M 



reader’s digest omnibus 


342 

relative to weight, the greater the resistance of the air. If a 
mouse is dropped down the shaft of a coal-mine, the accelera- 
tion due to gravity soon comes up against the retardation due to 
air resistance, and after 100 feet or so a steady rate is reached, 
which permits it to reach the bottom dazed but unhurt, how- 
ever deep the shaft. A cat, on the other hand, is killed, a man 
is not only killed, but horribly mangled; and if a pit pony falls 
over, the speed at the bottom is so appalling that the body 
makes a hole in the ground, and is so thoroughly smashed that 
nothing remains save a few fragments of the bones and a splash 
on the walls. 

Relative surface is also important for temperature regulation 
in warm-blooded animals; for the escape of heat must be pro- 
portional to the surface, through which it leaks away. As heat is 
derived from the combustion of the food, a mouse must eat much 
more m proportion to its weight than a man to make up for its 
unavoidable extra heat loss. The reason that children need 
proportionately more food than growm-ups is not only due to 
the fact that they are growing, but also to the fact that their heat 
loss is relatively greater. A baby of a year loses more than twice 
as much heat for each pound of its weight than does a 12-stone 
man. For this reason, it is doubtful whether the attempt should 
be made to harden children by letting them go about ivith bare 
legs in wnter; their heat requirements are greater than their 
parents’, not less. 

The big animal inevitably fails to be a mere scale enlarge- 
ment of its smaller relative. Everyone knows the small-eyed 
look of an elephant or of a whale. To obtain a good image, an 
eye has to be a certain absolute size; and once this size is reached, 
any advantage due to further enlargement is more than counter- 
balanced by the difficulties of construction, just as very little 
advantage is to be gained in photography by making a camera 
over full plate size. . 

We come back to the advantages and disadvantages of size. 
At the outset, it is not until living units are quit of the frenzy of 
Brownian movement that they themselves become capable of 
regulated locomotion. The first step in size is to become so much 
bigger than ordinary molecules that you can forget about them. 

But even then you are microscopic. Only by joining together 
tens or hundreds of thousands of cells can you make headway 


THE SIZE or LIVING THINGS 


343 

against such brute forces as currents. Size also brings speed and 
power, and this is an advantage in explonng the environment 
"When we get to whole grams, however, wnged life at least 
has the world before it. Many migratory birds that rcgularl) 
travel thousands of miles weigh less than ten grams Swimming 
soon follow's suit; think of the migration of tiny eels across the 
Atlantic, or of baby salmon down great rivers. 

Before a real brain can be constructed, the ammal must 
consist of tens of thousands of cells The mtelligence of a rat 
would be impossible without brain cells enough to outweigh the 
w’hole body of a bee, while the brain of a human being outweighs 
the very great majority of existing whole animals 
Man, m fact, is a very large orgamsm. Dunng his individual 
existence he multiplies his ongmal weight a thousand million, 
and comes to contain about a hundred million million cells. He 
is a little more than half-way up the size-scale of mammals, and 
nearly two-thirds up that of the vertebrates 




Sir C. Aubrey Smith, grand old gentleman of stage and 
screen, hked to dine quietly. Consequently he was rather 
put out when, in a Hollywood restaurant, he happened to 
be seated near a noisy diner who kept yelhng for the waiter. 
‘^\Tiat do you have to do,’ demanded the pest finally, ‘to 
get a glass of water m this dump^’ 

The sedate Sir Aubrey turned to the noisy one and 
qmetly said" ‘^\^ly don’t you try setting yours^ on fire?’ 

* A ¥ 

Dr Alfred Adler, the psychiatrist, was lectunng on the 
theorj' that people "with handicaps often specialize on their 
handicapped functions. Thus, short-winded boys tend to 
train themselves mto being distance runners, people with 
w'eak eyes tend to become painters, and so forth Adler 
finished his exposition and asked for questions 
Immediately this one ivas pitched at him from the back 
of the auditorium ‘Dr Adler, wouldn’t your theory mean 
that weak-minded people tend to become psychiatnsts?’ 



MOTHERS OF THE WILD 


Condensed from Field & Stream 
ARCHIBALD RUTLEDGE 

/ 

"Whenever the Santee River, beside my South Carolina 
plantation, goes into flood, I spend much time on its waters 
gettmg my livestock and game out of danger. On one such 
expedition I wtnessed the heroic behaviour of the finest - and 
the ughest - ^vildemess mother I have ever seen. 

She was a -wild razor-back hog. Built like a huge hyena, with 
a long, sharp snout, she looked fierce indeed. \Vhen I sighted 
her from my canoe she was marooned upon a big log wedged 
into the crotch of a water oak, and huddled up to her flank were 
nine little ones. The savage old creature knew well that the log 
would soon be swept away by the fast-rismg water. She could 
easily have saved herself— wild razor-backs can swim miles -but 
she would not leave her babies to pensh. 

Half a mile across the water stood a piece of high ground. She 
looked at it, as if appraismg the peril mcurred m swimming to' 
it. Her decision made, she grunted assurance to her precious 
pigs and tenderly nuzzled them mto a huddle on the log. Next 
she plunged in, swam around to show her babies how easily 
it was done, and'chmbed back on the log. Again grunting 
motherly counsel, she cautiously herded them into the water. 

First published in *The Readers DigesV in 1941 


L 


344 




MOTHERS or THE WILD 


345 

Then, making sure all were with her, she swam slowly to the 
ridge, keeping the tiny pigs m the lee of her great flank to break 
the force of the current for them It w as beautiful to watch that 
gnm old monster mothering her babies across the threatening 
tide to safety. ' 

In the depths of a nver swamp I came across a baby squirrd, 
on the limb of a redbud maple, munching a supper of tender 
buds. This adventurous elf was about 30 feet from the den-tree, 
from which I could hear his mother talking to him Suddenly, 
from a c^Tiress nearby, a barred owl launched himself toivards 
the little squirrel The mother ga\e a sharp bark of alarm, in a 
split second the infant dropped undemeatiti the hmb and hung 
like the man on the fljTng trapeze As he executed this amazmg 
manoemTe, the owl shot over the spot where his prey had been. 
By the time it could turn, the youngster had scampered hke 
lightning for home. His mother’s vigilance had saved his life. 

On another occasion I saw a mother squirrel leap from a high 
tree to one nearby and w’ait for her baby to follow. Coming to 
the take-off, the httle fellow' hesitated - that gulf looked so 
wide' Then he manfully gathered himself up, jumped, and 
landed in a smother of leaves on the end of a hmb In a flash the 
mother ran out and clasped her arms about him, sawng him 
from a fall as he struggled for a foothold after his Homeric 
flight 

Everyone knows that feline wild mothers w*!!! pick up their 
young and mo\e them away from harm. But I have seen a bird 
do the same thmg I had discovered a woodcock’s nest and every 
day, from a distance, I w'atched the mother as she sat on her 
five eggs, ^\^len her babies hatched they were funny httle buff- 
feathered balls with long bills and solemn black eyes, looking as 
wise and mirthless as judges. As I approached the nest one 
mormng the mother took alarm, grasped one of her babies 
firmly between her thighs and flew wTth it far out of sight, I 
watched her transport her entire brood that way. 

Male creatures of the wild spend their time m hunting, 
fightmg and idhng. It is their mdustrious and unselfish mates 
who teach the young the instant obedience necessary for 
survival.- 

One Jime day while crossing an old pasture I heard a mother 
quail give a caU of alarm. Soon I saw her trj'mg to attract my 


reader’s digest omnibus 


346 

attention and lure me away by pretending to be wounded. 
Then I spied her wee, day-old chicks. They were obeying their 
mother’s continued warnings to the best of their ability Every 
one was valiantly trying to conceal himself. Some crouched 
beneath clumps of daisies; two sat conucally in the grass on 
their little fantails, bright-eyed, unblinking, and still as stones 
I picked one up; settling down tightly, he did his best to hide in 
my hand. For 12 minutes by my watch the mother never 
ceased her broadcast, and not a baby stirred. Then, not 
wantmg to alarm the httle family any longer, I walked on, but 
I’m sure their obedience would have lasted indefimtely. 

One morning I startled a whitetail doe out of a thicket. I 
stopped and she neither saw nor wmded me. She stood tremu- 
lous wth apprehension, for her tiny fawn was with her, swaying 
unsteadily on his slender legs. She knew one of the best means 
of concealment is to remain motionless, but her fawn had not 
learned this. He kept frohcking about her until she set a delicate 
forefoot firmly on his back and pressed him down in the grass as 
if saying, ‘Baby, you must lie still until I find out if there’s any 
danger.’ 

The first month wild turkeys are hatched they cannot fly, 
and the turkey mother stays with them on the ground. All day 
long she watchfully leads her brood through the forest, occasion- 
ally standing statue-hke, a lovely and tireless sentinel alert for 
fox, ivildcat or weasel, while the young scurry about for food. 

I came upon such a family at dusk one May evening. 
Approaching a sweet gum tree, I heard a quaint elfin piping - 
the dulcet, appealing babble of baby turkeys. Crawhng nearer, 
I found the mother givmg her httle ones their first lesson m tree 
roosting. She and three of her young were still on the ground; 
the rest had taken roost, but some were on a limb only three 
feet off the ground, while one fledghng perched teeteringly on 
a small bush nearby. The httle birds, uneasy on their perches, 
looked down questioningly and complained in sweet trebles, and 
one unsteady httle fellow flopped back to earth. The mother 
admonished the weak ones, then flew up to a low limb and gave 
a reassuring call. One of those on the ground fluttered to the 
top of a bush and thence "winged his way to his mother’s perch. 
The others managed a flight of some seven feet 

All the 17 babies were now on the limb with their mother. 



THE BEST INVESTMENT 1 EVER MADE 347 

Each tried to huddle dose to her. Then followed an act of 
touching beauty The ttildemess mother extended her tvmgs as 
far as she could, so that under their maternal spread everj' one 
of her babies might find protection and comfort. And I thought: 
here is the t\’ild heart of the wastelands, biimmmg \\ith mother 
love. All the dangers of the mght are facing her babies. First she 
patiently gets them out of range of the perils on the ground. 
Then, because all cannot huddle dose to her warm breast, 
she stretches over them her tireless tt-mgs for a shidd and a 
shdter. 

If you draw aside the filmy ved separating human from animal 
life, you t%Tll often come upon scenes of pathos, valour and 
beaut)'. But the most thnllmg by far are the unselfish acts of 
devotion of the mothers of the tvild. 

THE BEST INVESTMENT 
I EVER MADE 

A. J. CRONIN 

On the second day out from New York, while making the 
round of the promenade deck, I suddenly became aware that 
one of the other passengers was watching me closely, following 
me ■with his gaze ever)' time I passed, his eyes filled mth a 
queer, almost pathetic intensity. 

I ha\ e crossed the Adannc many times. And on this occasion, 
tired after a prolonged piece of work, I wanted to rest, to avoid 
the tedium of casual and importunate shipboard contacts. I 
gave no sign of hav'ing noticed the man 

Yet there u'as nothmg importunate about him. On the 
contrary, he seemed affected by a troubled, rather touching 
diffidence. He was in his early 40’s, I judged - out of the comer 
of my eye - rather short in bmld. with a fair complexion, a good 
forehead from which his thm hair had begun to recede, and 
dear blue eyes His dark suit, sober tie and nmless spectacles 
gave ev'idence of a serious and reserved disposition. 

At this point the bugle sounded for dinner and I went below . 

Ftni published tn The Fesder^s IhgesT tn 1951 


348 reader’s digest omnibds 

On the following forenoon, I again observed my fellow voyager 
watching me earnestly from his deck-chair. 

Now a lady was with him, obviously his wife. She wzis about 
his age, quiet and restrained, with brown eyes and shghtly faded 
brown hair, dressed in a grey skirt and grey woollen cardigan. 

The situation by this time had begun to intrigue me and 
from my steward I discovered that they were Mr and Mrs 
John S — , from a small suburb of London. Yet when another 
day passed ^vithout event, I began to feel certain that ^-Ir S — 
would remain too shy to carry out his obvious desire to approach 
me. However, on our final evemng at sea, Mrs S — decided 
the matter. "With a firm pressure on his arm and a whispered 
word in his ear, she urged her husband towards me as I passed 
along the deck. 

‘Excuse me, Doctor. I wonder if I might introduce myself.’ 
He spoke almost breathlessly, offering me the visiting card 
which he held in his hand and studying my face to see if the 
name meant anything to me. Then, as it plainly did not, he 
went on ivith the same awkwardness. ‘If you could spare a few 
minutes . . . my wife and I would so like to have a word with 
you.’ 

A moment later I was occupying the vacant chair beside 
them. Haltingly he told me that this had been their first \'isit to 
America. It was not entirely a hohday trip They had been 
making a tour of the New England states, inspecting many of 
the summer recreational camps provided for young people there. 
Afterwards, they had visited settlement houses m New York 
and other cities to study the methods employed in dealing with 
youth groups, especially backward, maladjusted and dehnquent 
cases. 

There was in his voice and manner, indeed in his whole 
personality, a genuine enthusiasm which was disarming. I found 
myself liHng him instinctively. Questioning him further, I 
learned that he and his ivife had been active for the past 15 
years in the field of youth welfare. He was, by profession, a 
solicitor but, m addition to his practice, found time to act as 
director of a charitable organisation devoted to the care of boys 
and girls, mostly from city slums, who had fallen foul of the 
law. 

As he spoke with real feeling, I got a vivid picture of the work 



THE BEST INVESTMENT I EVER MADE 


349 

which these two people were doing -hois they took derelict 
adolescents from the juvemle courts and. plaang them in a 
healthy environment, healed them in mmd and body, sent them 
back into the isorld, trained m a useful handicraft and fit to 
take their places as isorthy members of the community-. 

It was a isork of redemption which stirred the heart and I 
asked what had directed his life into this channel. The question 
had a strange effect upon him; he took a sharp breath and 
exclaimed: 

‘So you still do not remember m^’ 

I shook my head, to the best of my behef 1 had never in my 
hfe seen him before 

‘I've wanted to get m touch wath you for man) )ears,’ he 
went on, under increasing stress. ‘But I was never able to biing 
myself to do so.’ Then, bending near, he spoke a few w ords, 
tensely, in my ear. At that, slow 1) , the veils parted, my thoughts 
sped back a quarter of a centuiy and, with a start, I remembered 
the sole occasion when I had seen this man before. 

I w’as a young doctor at the time and had just set up in 
practice in a workmg-class district of London. On a foggy 
November night, towards one o’clock, I was awakened by a 
loud ban^g at the door. In those days of econormc necessity 
any call, even at this unearthly hour, was a welcome one. 
Hurriedly, I threw' on some clothes, went downstairs. It was a 
sergeant ofpohee, m dripping helmet and cape, mistily outlined 
on the doorstep. A suicide case, he told me abruptly, m the 
lodgings round the comer - 1 had better come at once 

Outside it w'as raw' and damp, the trafSc stilled, the street 
deserted, quiet as the tomb ^Ve walked the short distance in 
silence, even our footsteps muffled by the fog, and turned into 
the narrow’ entrance of an old building. 

As we mounted the creaking staircase, my nostrils were stung 
by the sick-sweet odour of gas. On the upper storey the agitated 
landlady showed us to a bare litde attic w'here, stretched on a 
narrow' bed, lay the body of a )oung man. 

Although apparently lifeless, there remained the barest chance 
that the youth was not quite beyond recall. IVith the sergeant’s 
help, I began the work of resuscitation. For an entire hour w’e 
laboured without success A further 15 mmutes and, despite our 
most strenuous exertions, it appeared useless. Then, as we were 



reader’s digest omnibus 


350 

about to give up, completely exhausted, there broke from the 
patient a shallow, convulsive gasp. It was like a resurrection 
from the grave, a imracle, this stirring of life under our hands. 
Half an hour of redoubled efforts and we had the youth sitting 
up, gazing at us dazedly and, alas, slowly realising the horror of 
his situation. 

He was a round-cheeked lad, with a simple, countrified air, 
and the story that he told us, as he slowly regained strength m 
the bleak mormng hours, was simple, too. His parents were 
dead. An uncle m the provinces, anxious, no doubt, to be rid of 
an unwanted responsibility, had found him a position as clerk 
in a London solicitor’s office. He had been in the city only six 
months. Utterly friendless, he had fallen victim to the loose 
society of the streets, had made bad companions, and like a 
young fool, eager to taste pleasures far beyond his means, had 
begun to bet on horses. Soon he had lost all his small savings, 
had pledged his belongings, and owed the bookmaker a disastrous 
amount. In an effort to recoup, he had taken a sum of money 
from the office safe for a final gamble which, he was assured, 
was certain to win. But this last resort had failed. Terrified of 
the prosecution which must follow, sick at heart, sunk in despair, 
he had shut himself in his room and turned on the gas. 

A long bar of silence throbbed in the httle attic when he 
concluded this halting confession. Then, gruffly, the sergeant 
asked how much he had stolen. Pitifully, almost, the answer 
came, seven pounds ten shillings. Yes, incredible though it 
seemed, for this paltry sum this poor misguided lad had almost 
thrown away his hfe. 

Again there came a pause in which, plainly, the same un- 
spoken thought was uppermost in the minds of the three of us 
who were the sole witnesses of this near-tragedy Almost of one 
accord, we voiced our desire to give the youth - whose defence- 
less nature rather than any vicious tendencies had brought him 
to this extremity - a fresh start. The sergeant, at considerable 
risk to his job, resolved to make no report upon the case, so that 
no court proceedings would result. The landlady offered a 
month’s free board until he should get upon his feet again. 
AMiile I, making perhaps the least contribution, came forward 
with seven pounds ten shilhngs for him to put back in the office 
safe. 



THE HORSE THAT WENT OX A HOLIDAY 35 I 

The ship moved on through the still darkness of the night. 
There \%as no need of spCech. With a tender gesture Mrs S — 
had taken her husband’s hand And as we sat in silence, heanng 
the sounding of the sea and the sighing of the breeze, a singular 
emotion overcame me I could not but reflect that, against all 
the bad investments I had made throughout the years - those 
foolish speculations for material gam, producing only anxiety, 
disappomtment and frustration — here at last was one I need 
not regret, one that had paid no divndends in worldly goods, 
yet which might stand, nev'ertheless, on the profit side, in the 
final reckoning. 


THE HORSE THAT \VENT 
ON A HOLIDAY 

Condensed from Le Pairiole Ulustre 

FREDERIC SONDERN, JR. 

F OR years Herluf Petersen and Sandy Mac with their big dray 
have been an institution in Copenhagen Herr Petersen is a 
quiet, spectacled man who through four decades has made 
deliveries for the venerable firm of Vilh. Chnsdansen, ^Vines 
and Spirits Sandy Mac, named after the Scotch whisk)% is a 
great black Oldenburger geldmg, as gentle and dignified as his 
master. 

As they make their daily round through the streets of the old 
Danish capital, Herr Petersen in his leather wine-drover's apron 
and Sandy Mac in his glistening harness nod - each in his own 
■way -a decorous good-day to familiar tradesmen, tavern- 
keepers and poheemen. The horse obnously disapproves of 
motor cars, but should one get in his way he shows his contempt 
with no more than an annoyed snort and a hard stare. His 
master does the same. 

Only once has Copenhagen seen Sandy Mac lose his temper. 
It v\ as durmg a street battle between Danish pohee and German 
troops occup^mg the city m 1944. WTule bullets whined around 

Ftrs! tK FtaJer s DtsesT tr 1951 



reader’s digest omnibus 


352 

him, the big horse stood still for several minutes in front of a 
wineshop where the equally imperturbable Herr Petersen was 
making a delivery. 

Suddenly Sandy Mac decided that he had had enough. With 
a mighty lunge he started the heavily laden dray rolling towards 
the thick of the firing. Gathering momentum, he broke into a 
gallop and, head do\vn, charged the German soldiery. The 
Wehrmacht gaped and scattered in panic as the equine tank 
thundered by. Sandy Mac then slowed down and, wthout a 
backward glance, walked majestically off to his stable. 

Sandy Mac’s attack on the German Army is an oft-told tale 
in Copenhagen, but he was to become even more famous. Two 
years ago Herr Petersen presented himself at the sedate 
counting-house of Vilh. Christiansen with a startling request. 
He was about to go on his annual hohday and would like to 
take Sandy Mac with him to the seashore. 

‘He is getting on in years, sir,’ explained Herr Petersen, ‘just 
turning 14. He is tired and nervous. He has worked hard and 
wllingly, and deserves a holiday like any other employee. 
Never been out of the city since he was bom. He’d enjoy the 
ocean, I think.’ 

Such a thing was unheard of. But Herr Petersen’s arguments 
were compelhng. Sandy Mac was indeed a member of the staff 
of Christiansen, the partners decided, and as such was entitled 
to a holiday. 

On a bright summer morning Herr Petersen and Sandy Mac 
set out. As always, the big animal started off with prancmg step, 
his head high. But this was none of the usual routes. It was an 
unknown, uncrowded road, and there were many trees. Herr 
Petersen’s gnp on the reins was loose and he was singing. 
Fmally the horse stopped and turned his head. 

‘We’re going on a hohday,’ Herr Petersen told him. ‘To 
Koge, where you can mn around m a field and swim in the 
ocean ’ Sandy Mac twitched his ears, tossed his head and started 
off again. 

In a field close to the inn where he was to stay, Herr Petersen 
unhitched. Free of harness, the whole meadow in front of him, 
Sandy Mac gazed aroimd, looked at his master, and then just 
stood there. 

‘Go on,’ said Herr Petersen. ‘Run. Enjoy yourself.’ • 



THE HORSE THAT WENT ON A HOLIDAY 353 

The horse tried a few tentative steps on the spring)' turf; he 
knew only city pavement He trotted for a bit, Aen stopped to 
thmk It over. Suddenly, tvith a wld neigh, he flung up his hind 
legs and galloped madly off. Round and round m crazy circles 
he raced, lacking and bucking as he went "WTien Herr Petersen 
left, Sandy Mac was cautiously mbbimg at a patch of thick grass 

Early next mormng Sandy Mac was standmg by the gate of 
liis pasture gazing disconsolately down the road The horse, 
accustomed to a comfortable stable m the city, had cwdently 
not found a mght m the open to his hking He accepted his 
breakfast of oats ivithout enthusiasm, and was still grumpy 
when his master started oflT wth him 

Sandy Mac has an insatiable cunosity, however, and was 
soon engrossed in his surroundings. ^Valkmg along behind Herr 
Petersen, he inspected everything strange m dehberate fashion 
Wild flowers were sniffed and nibbled Cows, sheep and pigs 
were subjected to searching observation. 

‘He would stand there and stare,’ said Herr Petersen, ‘then 
he’d look at me, shake lus head, and snort He has vanous kmds 
of snorts and I can tell pretty well what he thinks.’ 

Chickens fesemated him, and he would follow one around the 
farmyard to see %vhat it did. Geese terrified him He had leaned 
doivn to inspect one and been rewarded with a sharp blow on 
the nose, then the whole flock advanced on him, pimons 
flapping, beady eyes glittenng. Sandy Mac reared in fnght and 
took off Herr Petersen found him fEU" doivn the road, still 
shaking 

To farm horses Sandy Mac was courteous enough, but he 
obviously regarded them as an entirely different class from 
himself. 

*I think he found them a bit uncouth’ Herr Petersen 
observed. ‘He’s very fussy about his own grooming and he’s 
somewhat of a snob.’ 

Sandy Mac's greatest tnal, however, was the ocean. The dry 
sand felt soft and treacherous, the wet sand was cold. Nothing 
that Herr Petersen tned could tempt him to put even one foot 
mto the water. He was unhappy when Herr Petersen himself 
Avent in, walked nervously back and forth, and kept his eyes on 
his master. iNTien Herr Petersen turned over to float on his 
back, the horse gave a temfied whinny and plunged after his 



reader’s digest omnibus 


354 

apparently drowning friend. As Herr Petersen stood up in the 
shallow water, the horse came to an abrupt stop, looked 
mortified, and made for the security of the shore. 

On the way out, however, he discovered that it was fun to 
splash, and soon was racing up ‘and down in the shallows, 
sending up great sheets of water and neighing with delight 
After that Herr Petersen always had difficulty getting him home. 

The holiday fortnight passed. On their way back to the city 
Herr Petersen noticed that, while there was much more power 
to Sandy Mac’s pull, he dawdled and wandered all over the 
road. As the familiar landmarks of Copenhagen appeared, and 
the gravel road changed to macadam, the horse showed 
nervousness. 

Herr Petersen reined to a halt. ‘Holiday is over,’ he said 
sharply. ‘You must walk properly. This is the city now. What 
will people think?’ 

Sandy Mac turned his head, paused for a moment, then 
gathered himself His neck arched, and looking straight ahead, 
he clip-clopped through the streets with his high, elegant step. 

‘He IS a city horse,’ Herr Petersen said. ‘He enjoyed his 
holiday but he likes his job too.’ 

Word of Sandy Mac’s holiday got around the capital quickly. 
One of the big Copenhagen restaurants gave a party to cele- 
brate his return. Solemnly the press reported the story in 
detail. HORSE enjoys holiday was one of the headlines. 

The Danes were fascinated. Svalen, the Danish SPCA, 
bought a pasture outside Copenhagen as a summer camp for 
city cart horses and made Herr Petersen an honorary member 
of Its society. 

Firms all over the city applied to Svalen for holiday penods 
for their horses The firm of Vilh. Christiansen announced that 
henceforth Sandy Mac would go to the seashore for two weeks 
every summer. There was even talk m the Diet of making 
hohdays for horses compulsory by law. 

Herr Petersen has had to tell the story of Sandy Mac’s 
expenences at the seashore over and over agam m coffee-houses 
and wineshops. 

‘I don’t see anything so remarkable about it,’ he would 
protest ‘Horses are people, in a way. And Sandy Mac happens 
to be a very intelhgent horse.’ 




MY 

MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER 

MARC A. ROSE 

John E. Baogett sent me a clipping from a Chicago ncivs- 
paper a while ago, and a word of greeting. By long custom the 
Item said, the teachers of the Lake Forest, Illinois, pubhc schools 
had gathered to celebrate his birthday - the 79th There w’as a 
picture of him. The party was held in the John E. Baggett 
Auditorium in the Gorton School 

I have seen that school, it is full of reproductions oftlic world’s 
masterpieces of painting and sculpture, and it has a fine collec- 
tion of recordings of the world’s great music. \Ir Baggett had 
bought them all - over $9,000 ivorth - largely out of his school- 
teacher’s pay. And I will venture that no child has left that 
school in the past 35 years who could not identify c\er>‘ picture 
and statue and piece of music. I wall likewise venture that e\ cry 
child could wTite a good, plain hand and was soundl) grounded 
in arithmetic and spellmg. 

I know John E. Baggett did that much for all of us who sat 
under his instruction 40-odd years ago That and so much more. 
Many progressive ideas began m his schoolroom and later 
spread from coast to coast He is a great teacher of w'hom it 
might almost be said that he never went to school 

John E. Baggett w'as bom in 1863 in Highland Park, 111 , 
on the w’est shore of Lake Michigan His father earned a living 
cutting w'ood to be hauled to Chicago, 20-odd miles aw'ay. 
^\Tien John w'as ii months old his mother died and he w'as be- 
queathed to a childless neighbour, IMargaret Reid. Her husband 
W’as another w’oodcutter. 

John Baggett w'as a quiet, rather sulky child. He w’as called 
-Johnny Reid, ^\llen he was 12 his foster parents took him to an 
low'a farm. 

There w’as no place for the boy in the one-room cabin, so he 
slept in the granary. He w'as unhappy. The Reids, dour folk 

Frrtf ^t^ltshcd tn *Tki ’Readtr^t tr !194S 


355 



reader’s digest omnibus 


356 

from the Orkneys, seemed harsh and cold to the httle Irish lad, 
and Reid when drunk was mean. 

The boy hated farm work and loved books. Reid had brought 
a few volumes from the old country, one, Scottish Chiefs 
all but learned by heart. He was fiercely set on learning. By 
this time he w'as aware that he was a foster child, and found 



consolation in telling himself he was of finer stuff than the Reids 
and would rise above them. 

He had to do his reading in the bam - the cracks stuffed wth 
papers so no hght would show he was ‘wasting’^kerosene. He 
got hold of books in one way and another and plugged at them 
diligently, for now' he had an ambition, he would teach school. 
One day when he w'as not quite 1 7 he was sent to town - Warren, 
la. — -with a load of grziin. 'WTiile there he made inquiries and 
learned that a school two miles from the Reid’s farm needed a 
teacher. On the spot the boy took the examination and passed 
brilliantly - aU but spelling. He had spelled the words correctly, 
but in those days you were also required to divide them into 
sj'llables; and John’s syllables were highly onginal. That w'as 
because he had never seen a spelling book ‘Take this one,’ said 
the examiner, ‘and come back w'hen you’re ready.’ 

Soon thereafter the lad w'as able to chop his words apart 
neatly, and he w'as appointed to a Bremer County school at $24 
a month. At the Reids’ there was a row', but the boy stuck firmly 
to his plan. That fall he faced his first pupils, many of them older 
and bigger than himself. But they took to him, he relates wdth 
mild surprise in his voice, and he had no trouble. 



MY MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER 357 

That wnter, Reid, drunk, fell from a wagon and broke his 
leg So John Baggett got up at five o’clock, did the chores at 
home, walked two miles to school through snow and bitter cold, 
made the fire there, taught all day, trudged home and did the 
evening chores. 

^NTien Reid was well again the young schoolteacher left the 
farm, resuming his own name, Baggett, which he spelled by ear. 
After teaching three terms in nearby counties, he went back to 
the Ilhnois county where he was bom. There he passed - with 
perfect marks - the examination for an elementar)' teacher’s 
certificate. 

The examiner had a vacancy for a good, strong man. The 
boys had burned one teacher in efBgy and driven him away. 

John Baggett taught in country schools for a few' years and 
his local fame grew. In 1888 the nearby city of ^Vaukegan asked 
him to become pnncipal of its North School. 

There he taught the sixth, seventh and eighth grades - 70 
pupils. In 1893, when the "World’s Fair was held in Chicago, 
John Baggett took seven of his pupils to see its wonders on 
each of ten successive Saturdays To keep them together in the 
crow'ds he had them all hold on to a rope; he held the end 

It w'as into John Baggett’s schoolroom in Waukegan that I 
w’as taken one morning in mid-teim; it had been decided that I 
could ‘skip a grade’ This w'as the first man teacher I had ever 
faced and I was a little nervous as I studied him I saw a man of 
medium height, thick black hair parted in the middle, snapping 
blue eyes and a neat "Vandyke beard, black as ink. I had seen 
few men so well tailored, brushed and shined except on Sunday. 
Mr Baggett was always that way, it was part of what he taught 
us, silently, that it wasn’t effeimnate to pay attention to such 
things. 

I looked around the room and caught my breath All the 
schoolrooms I had ever seen were utterly bare, bleak and 
brown, most of them in America then were. But this one was 
different. The desk tops w'eren’t w'hittled, ink-stained and dingy, 
they were enamelled ivory-white. So w'ere the doors and wood- 
w'ork. The south ivindow's w'ere banked ivith ferns and potted 
plants. All the window's had filmy curtains. 

Nearly a hundred framed pictures hung on the sage-green 
papered w'alls Clear around the room ran a border of 



reader’s digest omnibus 


358 

photographs of the Acropolis, Notre Dame, the Bridge of 
Sighs and other famous scenes. Below that border was a frieze 
of portraits of famous men. Here and there were plaster casts of 
fine pieces of sculpture, the firat I had ever seen. Pinned to the 
door of the room were scores of newspaper clippings and 
pictures from illustrated weeklies - fascinating pictures of 
soldiers fighting under the palm trees of Cuba; warships of the 
W^ite Squadron firing their guns at the ships of Spam. It was 
all exciting and beautiful. 

That very autumn John Baggett’s room was adjudged the most 
attractive schoolroom in the United States, and photographs of 
It were published in the Ladies' Home Journal, which \^fas then 
crusading against the bleakness of American schools. 

John Baggett had \vith his own hands scraped the 70 dingy 
desks and enamelled them one summer. He had patiently col- 
lected all the pictures - buying, begging, borrowing. Most of us 
had little enough beauty m our homes, and to me and thousands 
of other children John Baggett’s schoolroom was a first intro- 
duction to the world of culture and good taste. Not that anything 
was preached to us about art. We were simply told that these 
were the world’s great pictures and statues, and that we ought 
to know their names and the names of the artists, just as one 
would know the names of great books and their authors. So we 
learned to identify every masterpiece. 

The door taught us ‘live history’, as Mr Baggett called it 
Each day he tacked up chppings of the important news and 
news pictures. Fascinated, we would crowd around the door 
during recess or after school, reading the clippings, examining 
the pictures, asking questions. There was an occzisional quiz, 
and the boy or girl who gave the best answers was permitted to 
clear off the door at the end of the month and keep the pictures 
and clippings. 

Often on Friday afternoons there was music. Mr Baggett 
invited talented students from the Chicago Conservatory to 
play or sing for us. Usually they would explain a little: ‘There 
hves m Norway a man named Grieg who is ^v^iting very beautiful 
new music. This is one of his pieces, m it you can imagine the 
peasants dancing at a wedding.’ 

If there was a new thing in the world, we were likely to know 
It soon. Mr Baggett somehow got hold of one of the first X-ray 



MY MOST UNFORGETTABLE CHARACTER 35Q 

photographs to reach this country - a hand, showng the bones 
and a ring on one finger ^Ve were among the first persons m 
the isorld to see motion pictures. The movie camera was bom 
in Waukegan and, in ’98 or ’99, Mr Baggett persuaded the 
inventor to set up a machine in our darkened schoolroom and 
show us pictures of trains coming mto our railroad station and a 
circus parade going down Genesee Street 

In teaching the basic subjects,Mr Baggett was strict, thorough, 
and something of an innovator He was perhaps the first to 
compile a list of '200 words most often misspelled’, we w'cre 
relentlessly drilled on them. He insisted upon good handwriting 
He set great store by mental arithmetic and was always popping 
such problems at you, unexpectedly Best kind of intelhgence 
test, he still insists 

Some afternoons there were cake sales for the pretended 
purpose of raising a little money to buy pictures or new curtains. 
The real motive, howev'er, was to get mothers to come and talk 
to teachers Parent-teacher meetings hadn’t been invented. 
Sometimes Benny Kubelsky would play his violin Benny’s father 
always sent two dollars instead of a cake, which he didn’t have 
to do since Benny went to South School, not ours But Abe 
Kubebky always wanted to help - perhaps because Mr Baggett 
encouraged Benny. Jack Benny, he is now 

"We sang, of course. Nothing unusual about that But w'hen I 
was a grown man at the Metropolitan Opera House one evening 
I suddenly recognised something I used to sing* \Ve had been 
taught choruses fi-om Faust, from CavalUna Rusticana, songs by 
Mendelssohn and Schubert - not tinkly stuff from children’s 
song-books And we lov'ed it all 

I hope I am not making this well-dressed schoolteacher who 
was fond of art and music sound hke a pale aesthete. John Baggett 
was ruggedly masculine. There never was a ball game in the 
schoolyard that he could stay out of, good clothes and all Or 
he’d bat fliers for the big boys to catch, and occasionally, just to 
show’ off*, would knock one clear over the fence. ^Ve had some 
big louts in our school — one was 18 and just back from soldier- 
ing in the Spamsh-Amencan ^Var — but none of them could do 
that Mr Baggett was also a redoubtable man with a snowball, 
and missed few such battles. He was a great hiker before we 
knew that word. 



reader’s digest omnibus 


360 

In 60 years of teaching, he was absent three days because of 
illness. Meeting him m \Vaukegan a year ago, I suggested that 
we go to see the old school. He agreed and I called a taxi. He 
asked, ‘Don’t you enjoy walldng?’ 

‘I thought might not,’ I explained 

‘I sometimes walk home from Lake Forest,’ he said. Eight 
miles — at 78. 

Mr Baggett was in overalls one spring Saturday, planting 
shrubs in the schoolyard, when some distinguished-looking men 
drove up and spoke to him. ANTien he learned they were the 
school board of wealthy Lake Forest, he was flustered. ‘If I’d 
known you were coming I’d not be mussed up like this,’ he said. 

The chairman smiled. ‘We are here because you are the kind of 
man who plants things in schoolyards on Saturdays,’ he ex- 
plained. They wanted Mr Baggett at twice his \Vaukegan pay. 
So in 1904 he went to Lake Forest. There he was superintendent 
for 35 years and there, as superintendent emeritus, he still 
teaches two days a week. 

Since he had earned only S90 a month in "Waukegan, his 
S180 at Lake Forest sounded like riches The first month he 
spent S 1 00 of it for a model of the Winged "Victory of Samothrace, 
to stand in the hall. It’s there yet. They got a bargain in John . 
Baggett. He decorated the schools for them, out of his o^vn 
pocket. He just couldn’t help it. 

Lake Forest appreciated him. As part token, they sent him on 
a trip to Europe in igio and again in 1926. Europe was a 
delight to him; he haimted the galleries, seeing the originals of 
pictures he had loved for years; visited the ‘famous scenes’; and 
tramped afoot over the locale of Scottish Chitfs. But his great 
adventure came in Dubhn. 

Outside Phoenix Pzirk he found Baggot Terrace. Learning 
that there was a Baggot family, he ventured to call at the great 
house in its lOO-acre grounds, where he was received by a 
courtly gentleman, Henry Baggot, six feet four, white-haired. 
John Baggett explained diffidently that he was interested in the 
similarity of names, that his parents had come from Ireland, 
and so on. 

Henry Baggot proved to be his uncle, an older brother of the 
scapegrace lad who ran away to America at 16 to seek his 
fortune, but to end as a woodchopper and the father of John 


ARE YOU ALIVE^ 


361 

Ba^ett The old uncle wept wth emotion, then scolded him for 
misspelling his name He led his nephew through the mansion 
and displayed his collection of Renaissance paintings He show cd 
him Baggot Park, wath its mar\'ellous shrubs and flowers He 
led him to Tnmty College and showed him the Baggot room in 
which hangs a portrait of his great-great-aunt, a pioneer among 
women educators John Baggett had been right in his boyish 
intmtion; he came from gentle stock. 

‘And so, you see,’ he explained to me very seriously, T desen'c 
no credit at all. I inhented my love for pictures and flow ers, and 
whatever gift I have for teachmg w'as a faimly trmt, too ’ 


5MS 


. ARE YOU ALIVE? 

Condensed from The Nation 
STUART CHASE 

There seems to be an ascending scale of values m life, and 
somew'here in this scale there is a hne- probably a blurred 
one - below W’hich one more or less ‘exists’ and above w'hich 
one more or less ‘lives’. 

■\\Tiat does it mean to be alive, to hve mtenscly? 

I do not know what life means to other people, but I do 
know’ what it means to me, and I have w'orked out a personal 
method of measuring it 

Take the days as they come, put a plus beside the Imng hours 
and a minus before the dead ones, find out just what makes the 
hve ones hve and the dead ones die. Can w’e catch the truth of 
hfe in such an anal)’sis? The poet ivill say no, but I am an 
V accountant and only w’rite poetrj' out of hours. 

^ly notes show a cleissification of 1 1 states of being in w’hich I 
feel I tun ahve, and five states in which I feel I only exist. These 
are major states, needless to say. In addition, I find scores of 
sub-states are too obscure for me to analyse. The ii ‘plus’ 
reactions are these. 

I seem to hve when I am creating something - writing this 


F\Ttt pu^xihti tn *The tUaia^i Di^esT in 1922 


362 reader’,s digest omnibus 

' article, for instance, making a sketch, working on an economic 
theory, building a bookshelf. 

Art certainly vitalises me. A good novel, some poems, some 
pictures, operas, many beautiful buildings and particularly 
bridges affect me as though I took the artist’s blood into my 
own veins. 

\ The mountains and the sea and stars - all the old subjects of 
a thousand poets - renew life in me. As in the case of art, the 
process is not automatic - I hate the sea sometimes — but by 
and large, I feel the line of existence below me when I see these 
things. 

, Love IS life, vital and intense. Very real to me also is the love 
one bears one’s fnends. 

I live when I am stimulated by good conversation, good 
argument. There is a sort of vitality in just deahng in ideas that 
to me IS very real. 

“ I live when I am in the presence of danger, rock-climbing, 
for example. 

- I feel very much alive in the presence of genuine sorrow. 

I live when I play ~ preferably out-of-doors at such things as 
stvimming, skating, ski-ing, sometimes driving a car, sometimes 
walking. 

' One hves when one takes food after genuine hunger, or when 
burying one’s lips in a cool mountam spring after a long climb. 
• One lives when one sleeps. A sound, healthy sleep after a day 
spent out-of-doors gives one the feehng of a silent, whirring 
dynamo. In one’s vivid dreams I am convinced one lives. 

'' I live when I laugh, spontaneously and heartily. 

In contradistinction to ‘living’ I find these states of ‘existence’ 

' I exist when I am doing drudgery of any kind adding up 
figures, washing dishes, answering most letters, attending to 
money matters, shaving, dressing, riding on street-cars, buying 
things. 

■■ I exist when attending the average social function - a tea, a 
dinner, listening to dull people talk. 

, Eating, drinking, or sleeping when one is already replete, 
when one’s senses are dulled, are states of existence, not life 

- Old monotonous things -city walls, too familiar streets, 
houses, rooms, furmture, clothes -drive one to the existence 
level. 


CRASH IN SHANGRI-LA 


363 

Sheer ugliness, such as one sees m a slum, depresses me 
mtensely. 

I retreat from life when I become angry. I e.^t through rows 
and misunderstandings and in the blind ileys of ‘getting e\ en’. 

So, m a general way, I set life off from existence. It must be 
admitted, of course, diat ‘hving* is often a mental state quite 
mdependent of physical enwonment or occupation. One 
may feel, in spnngtune, for mstance, suddenly ahve m old, 
monotonous surroundings. Then even dressing and dishwashmg 
become eventful and one sings as one shaves But these outbursts 
are on the whole abnormal 

My notes show that in one week, of the t68 hours contained 
therem, I only ‘hved’ about 40 of them, or 25 per cent of the 
total time. Tlus allowed for some creative work, a Sunday's 
hike, some genuine hunger, some healthy sleep, a httic stimu- 
lating reading, tivo acts of a play, part of a mo\mg picture, and 
eight hours of interesting discussion with vanous friends I 
beheve that I could deliberately ‘live’ twice as much in the 
same hours as I do now, if I would come out from under the 
chains of necessity, largely econoimc, which bind me. 

It may be that the states of being which release life in me 
release it in most human bein^ Generally speaking, one’s 
salvation is bound closely with that of all manfand - the ratio 
of hving groiving wth that of the mass of one’s fellow men. 




CRASH IN SHANGRI-LA 

Condensed from an International Hews Sen tee Feature 

CORPORAL MARGARET HASTINGS 
IN COLLABORATION WITH INEZ ROBB 

Sunday, 13 May 1945 was a super-special day at the Far East 
Air Service Command in Dutch New Guinea Eight of us \VACs 
(Women’s Army Corps girls) wxre going to get a look at Hidden 
Valley, a cliff-walled Shangn-La deep m the mterior. entirely 
cut off from the outside world by towering mountains. Every 


Ftni pviltshed ir *TJit Rfoda's DiSfsf «« 1943 



364 reader’s digest omnibus 

pilot who had flown over it had come back with a tall tale. The 
natives were all giants. They were head-hunters and cannibals. 
Their lands were cultivated, and cnss-crossed with irrigation 
ditches. All the women were Dorothy Lamours in blackface. 

I was the first person in the big C-47 . 1 went up the aisle and 
took the first bucket seat behind the pilots’ compartment. But I 
couldn’t see very well out of the %vindow, so I walked back and 
took the last scat, next to the door. This decision, based on pure 
caprice, undoubtedly saved my life. 

I ^\'inked at S/Sgt. Laura Besley opposite me. She was a dark, 
pretty girl and we used to have double dates together. Pfc. 
Eleanor Hanna grabbed the seat next to her. ‘Isn’t this fun!’ she 
yelled above the roar of the motors. 

I didn’t know many of the men who began to fill up the plane. 
I recognised T/Sgt. Kenneth Decker as the man to whom I had 
refused a date weeks earlier. (He never let me forget it, either, 
all the time we were imprisoned in the valley.) About the last 
two people to enter the plane were Lieut. John S. McCoUom' 
26, and his twin brother, Lieut. Robert E. McCollom, known 
as ‘the inseparables’. By that time, the plane was loaded to 
capacity with eight "WACs and 16 men, including the crew. 
Lieut. Robert McCollom went forward and found a seat. But 
there was none left for John. 

‘Mind if I share this window wth you?’ he asked me. 

‘Certamly not,’ I shouted. 

So God took him by the haCnd, no less than me. 

AVe climbed SAviftly over the Oranje Mountains, a magnifi- 
cent range but covered with jungle. It was a beautiful, clear 
day. The jungle looked as soft as green feathers, and I kept 
thinking if you fell into it you couldn’t possibly get hurt. We 
reached Hidden Valley in 55 minutes, and the plane descended 
rapidly until we were not more than 300 feet above rich, well- 
cultivated fields. IVe had a fleeting glimpse of a cluster of round 
huts ivith thatched roofs, and then started climbing towards the 
pass in the mountains. 

Suddenly I felt John McCollom give a violent start. I looked 
doivn. The big plane was shearing the tops of the tall jungle 
trees. 

‘Give her the gun and let’s get out of here,’ McCollom 
shouted. 





CRASH IN SHANGRI-LA 


365 


I thought he was jokmg. It never occurred to me that 
were going to crash until the plane hit the side of the mountain. 

I never lost consaousness, but it is hard for me to say just 
uhat happened next. Suddenly I ^^as bouncing, boundnsr 
bouncing. The air ^s•as filled ivith explosions like gunfire. As"l 
bounced for the last time, I realised that someone had wrapped 
his arms tightly aroimd my waist Already fire ^\as scorching 
my face and hair. I had ^wa^s heard that in times of crisis 
people can summon superhuman strength to aid them I know 
this is true. I ^^eigh less than 100 pounds, yet I managed to 
break that \'ice-like grip, and started to crawl on mv hands and 
knees - an^-thmg to get away from the flames. 

Incredibly, not more than 30 seconds had gone by from the 
time the C-47 struck the mountamside. 

‘My Godl Hastings'* someone cried as I stood up. It was John 
McCollom, without a scratch on him. The fact that we were m 
the rear of the plane and that the tail broke aw ay from the rest 
of the fuselage sa\ ed our hves. 

Before we could say another word, we heard the only cr^' that 
ever came from the plane : a woman calhng for help McCollom 
whirled instantly and dragged a girl out of the mfcmo. In 
another second he was in the plane again and back with another. 
They were the two ^VACs who had been seated across from me. 

Then a man came staggering around the right side of the 
plane. A hideous gash on his forehead had laid his skull bare. 
lEs hair was matted against his head. It was Sergeant Decker 
If he had been a supernatural figure, his sudden appearance 
could not hat e been more astoundmg. He stood st\ a^ing on his 
feet, muttermg o\er and over. ‘Helluva way to spend ^our 
birtiiday.’ Later we discovered that this May 13 was Decker’s 
36th birthday. 

‘Hastmgs, can’t you do something for these girls’’ McCollom’s 
crisp command partially snapped me out of the shock w hich had 
held me almost rigid. The two girls were Iting together. Eten 
I, who had had no experience with death, could see that 
Eleanor Hanna was d)ing. Laura Besley was hysterical, but 
apparently unmjured. 

The fire tvas spreadmg, and we had to mote qmcklt. 
hlcCoUom picked up Eleanor, and we started totvards a little 
ledge some 25 yards atvay — an interminable distance in the 



reader’s digest omnibus 


366 

jungle. ^Vc had to contend ivith the indescribable ivreckage 
caused by the plane as it snapped trees and matted the under- 
'groirth in its fall. I noticed that I didn’t have any shoes, and my 
nght foot was badly cut and bleeding. Later I discovered that 
my legs were burned. Much of my hair was burned off and the 
left side of my face was bhstered. But neither Decker nor I felt 
any pain until our bums became infected. 

We had crashed at 9,000 feet and already we were chilled to 
the marrow. Now the daily ram of New Guinea began to fall, 
and soaked clothing added to our miseries. McCollom made 
repeated trips to the plane to see what he could salvage. Never 
once did he let us know the agony he was enduring. In that 
funeral pyre was his twin brother, Robert. 

He foimd emergency life rafts and stripped them of every- 
thing we could use: big yellow tarpaulins, small tins of water 
and hard candies, and a signal kit. He put a tarpaulin over the 
other two girls, gave Eleanor a little morphine, and then, 
exhausted, crawled under another tarpaulin with Decker and 
me. I guess you have to share the kind of paralysing -accident 
we had before you can realise that imder such circumstances 
you cease to be tivo men and a woman. \Ve were just three 
human beings bound together by a \vill to live. 

■\\Tien dawn came, McCollom knelt by one of the girls for a 
few moments. Then he said quietly, ‘Eleanor’s dead.’ "We did 
not talk and we could not weep. McCollom wrapped her 
carefully m a tarpaulin and laid her beside a tree. That was all 
that could be done. 

For breakfast we had a sip of water from the emergency tins, 
a vitamin pill each, and a few pieces of hard candy. Laura, 
Decker and I were aU shaking uncontrollably. It was agreed 
that we would spend the rest of this day and mght on the peak, 
trying to recover from shock. Then in the morning, we would 
start down the mountain. Secretly I wondered if, irithout shoes, 
I would ever be able to make it through the jungle. 

'We knew the Army would search for us. The first plane came 
over that morning. McCollom grabbed the mirror from the 
signal kit and worked it frantically. They did not see us, but it 
made us feel a thousand times better just to know that they 
were looking for us. 

As usual, mist and rain began to close in on the moimtam in 



CRASH IN SHAXGRl-LA 367 

niid-afternoon. I crawled under the tarpaulin with Laura. She 
was terribly restless. Not even the morphine w e gave her quieted 
her. I dozed a while, and when I woke up, Laura w-as so still it 
frightened me I screamed for McCoDom He came o\er and 
fdt her hands and her pulse He didn’t say a word. He just got 
another tarpaulin and ivrapped her in it, then Izdd her down 
beside Eleanor. I ought to have felt terrible gnef for tins dear 
friend. But all I could think was. ‘Now’ her shoes belong to me.’ 

McCoUom lighted a cigarette and gave me one. He staied 
with me till it w'as hght No night will ever again be as long as 
that one. 

■\\Tien daylight came, we started down the mountain 
McCoUom w’rapped most of the emergenc\’ rations, the water 
and two flashlights in a big pack that he carried and made a 
smaller one for Decker. He gave me a small pail with the da\ ’s 
rations, two cans of water and a handful of hard candy. 

■McCoBom w'ent ahead 1 w’as in the middle and Decker 
brought up the rear. Everything in the jungle reached out to 
daw at us My hair hung more than half-w ay to my w’aist, and 
the men were alw’ays having to untangle it Finally I said in 
desperation: ‘Please, McCollom, hack it oflT.’ McCollom got 
out his pocket-knife and cut off all but an mch and a half 
of hair. 

IVe stumbled into a steep gully and followed it. Before long 
we were tryung to keep our footing m a swift mountain torrent, 
laced wuth waterfalls, that seemed to leap straight down the 
mountmnside. Once we came to a 12-foot drop. McCollom 
grabbed one of the rope-hke vmes that are all over the jungle 
He swung out and over the waterfall and let himself down 

‘Gome on, hla^e'’ he ordered. Before I could think, I had 
grabbed the \’ine and si\*ung dizzily mto space Next it was 
Decker’s turn. He dropped mto the water beside us, gnnncd, 
and said; ‘Damned if I ever thought I’d understudy Johnny 
IVeissmuIler*’ 

By midday we w’cre exhausted, our bodies numb with cold 
\Ve could hear the search planes overhead but we knew the\ 
w’ould never see us in the stream, roofed over by jungle. \\ e had 
to reach a clearing if the planes were ever to spot us 

For breakfast next mormng we had a httle more hard cand\ 
and some water. I w’Ould have given anytlimg for a cup of hot 


reader’s digest omnibus 


368 

coffee. By this time, my feet, my legs and one of my hands were 
infected. It was all I could do to keep up, and I was half blind 
with tears I didn’t want the men to see Once when McCollom 
got way ahead of Decker and myself, I cried hystencally: 
‘McCollom has gone off and left us, and he’s got all the food, 
and we’re going to starve to death!’ 

Right there. Decker turned into a tough top sergeant. He was 
even sicker than I, but he knew what he had to do to keep me 
going. The least thing he called me was a piker and a quitter. 
I got so mad I wanted to kill him. But I got to my feet and 
stumbled on doivnstream No one knows better than I that I 
owe my life to McCollom, and it shames me to the core to thinV 
that even in hysteria I doubted him for a moment. 

About 1 1 o’clock that morning, after five hours in the water, 
we came to a clearing McCollom pulled himself up the eight- 
foot bank and yelled ‘Come on, this is it!’ 

Decker went up first, then dragged me up. I sprawled on my 
face, unable to move. We lay there and panted and ached, and 
tned to soak warmth mto our shaking bodies. 

Around noon, we heard the motors of a big plane. I thought 
we would never get the yellow tarpaulins spread out on the 
ground. Miraculously, the plane circled back over the clearing, 
and -ttuthin a few minutes the pilot cut the motors. Then he 
dipped his wings. 

We, who were so tired we could scarcely stand ten minutes 
before, now jumped up and do%vn. We screamed and waved our 
arms. 

Now we could even make jokes. Decker said, rather gloomily, 
‘I suppose one of us \vill have to many Maggie and give this 
adventure the proper romantic ending.’ 

McCollom looked at me critically and said ‘She’ll have to 
put on more meat before I’m interested ’ 

I snapped • ‘I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last man in 
the world. I’m going to many^ Decker*’ 

Poor Decker looked at me in great alarm and said, ‘The hell 
you are*’ 

But even though I had just been rejected by two men, it was 
still a beautiful day. We sat and speculated about how long it 
would be before the Army began flying supplies to us. While we 
were rejoicing. Decker asked, ‘Do you hear something funny?’ It 



CRASH IK SHAKGRI-LA 369 

sounded exactly like a pack of dogs gapping. But we knew at 
once %\hat it was - the natives 
All the things iv e had heard about them ere suddenly \ cr\ 
clear and ominous, they i\ere seven feet tall, they i\erc canni- 
bals, they practiced human sacrifice, they uere fierce warriors. 
And we three were armed wth one pocket-knife’ 

‘There’s nothing we can do but act fhendly,’ said hIcCollom. 
He ordered us to hold out our only food, the hard candy, 
adding his jack-knife to the pitiful gifts. 

‘Stand up,’ McGoIlom barked, ‘and smile ’ 

Black heads began to pop out from behind jungle trees. IVe 
smiled. We smiled for our byes. "We held out our gifts, and tlicn 
we waited. 

There were about 100 men with wicked-looking stone axes 
over their shoulders The chief led the way. Our smiles by this 
time had the fixity of gramte About 15 feet from us, the 
natives stopped and clustered around. The chief was talking 
sixty to the second And then his ugly face crumpled into a 
beaming smUe It was reprieve. It was friendship. It was hfc. 

The chief stepped up to McCoUom and held out liis hand 
McCollom,*weak inth relief, grabbed it and wrung it. The black 
man W’ho never before had seen a white man and the ivhitc 
man who never before had met a savage on his owm ground 
understood each other. The smiles had done it. 

^ ‘How are you? Nice to see you,’ hlcCoUom kept saving over 
and over. ‘Here’ Meet Corporal Hastings and Sergeant Decker.’ 

We suddenly realised that the natives were more afraid of us 
than we of them' Far from being seven feet tall, they averaged 
around five and a half feet. And certainly they didn’t look very 
fierce. Their clothing consisted of a thong around their waists, 
from which a gourd was suspended in front and a huge tropic 
leaf hung, tail-hke, in back. All but the chief, whom McCollom 
nicknamed Pete, wore snoods made of heavy string hanging 
from dieir heads dowm their backs In these snoods they tucked 
anj'thing they had to carry -even tobacco, the coarse native 
leaves which they rolled into short green cigars. 

Pete and his followers had the biggest, flattest feet we’d ever 
seen.<And some of his boys smeared themselves with a smelly 
black grease tQmake themselves look even blacker. 

Now we tried to press our gifts on them. I thought of mj 



370 reader’s digest omnibus 

compact, and they were wildly delighted with it, gurghng and 
chattering like magpies when they saw their own faces. . 

By this time, I was so tired my throbbing legs would no 
longer hold me up and I sat down suddenly. The natives 
gathered round me curiously, and no wonder! I was a sight to 
behold. The left side of my face was black from bums. My 
eyebrows and eyelashes were gone and my nose had begun to 
swell. My hair stood up in short tufts all over my head. I was a 
sight, all right, guaranteed to fascinate only savages or doctors. 

McCollom showed Pete the injunes Decker and I had 
received Pete shook his head solemnly and muttered, ‘Uhn, 
uhn, uhn.’ That was the only native word we ever picked up 
When the natives talked to us, we would always hsten carefully, 
and from time to time mutter, ‘Uhn, uhn, uhn ’ They would be 
delighted. 

Before the natives left us that day they returned the jack-knife, 
the compact and the hard candy. Never would they accept 
presents. 

The next morning an Army plane dropped cargo chutes to 
us. The first one contained an F-M radio, operated somewhat 
like a walkie-talkie. McCollom swiftly set it up and said into the 
mouthpiece, ‘This is Lieutenant McCollom Give me a call. Do 
you read me^ Over.’ Instantly and clearly, the reply came. 
‘This IS 31 1 (number of circling plane) calling 925 (number of 
plane that crashed) I read you 5 x 5-’ 

The plane could hear us perfectly! 

McCollom reported the details of the crash and told our 
names. An Army doctor in the plane said he would parachute 
medical men in to us. We felt better for the mere promise of 
aid. When the plane flew off, there on the knoll across from us 
were Pete and his chums, squatted on their haunches, grinning 
and watching us hke an audience at a Broadway play. They 
had built a httle fire and were puffing their home-made cigars. 
McCollom, Decker and I were dying for a cigarette. We had 
plenty of them, but no matches. 

‘I’m going over and borrow a light from the neighbours,’ said 
McCollom So he got a light, and we all smoked, the natives on 
their knoll and we on ours. 

The plane had dropped us some supplies, but the chute had 
fallen in the j’ungle nearby. As we puffed we thought of the 



CRASH IN SHAXGRI-LA 


3/1 

luscious Spam and K rations probably a^vaiung us •\vithin a 
stone’s throw. 

‘There are only two things to cat that I hate,’ I said dreamily. 
‘One IS canned tomatoes and the other is raisins.’ 

‘I could eat the tomatoes, can and all, if I could get ’em,’ 
hIcCoIIom declared ^^•ith fen'our. He hoisted himself up to go 
and look for the supplies 

McCollom and Decker were both extraordinarv men and 
they behaved aln-a^'S mth the utmost fortitude. We didn't know 
un^ we got out of Shangri-La that McCollom had a cracked 
nb. Decker was ob\'iously badl^ hurt, but just how gra\ely we 
were not to (iisco\er until later. Now he staggered after 
McCollom, determined to do his share of the work. When they 
returned, they were grinning Uke apes. In their hands were 
cans of the only food they had found - tomatoes' 

Later the men went back and found a half dozen jungle kits 
containing medicine, bandages and jungle kni\cs McCollom 
attended to Decker’s and my mjuries. It must ha\e made him 
as ill as It did me to look at mv legs. Bracelet bums around cacli 
calf had turned into big, e\il-smelhng, running sores M^ feet 
were gangrenous, too, and so was my hand I was in terror lest 
I lose my legs. But this was no time for hj'steria I helped 
McCollom put omtment on my legs and feet, and he bound 
them up. 

The ttvo men looked at me, dirtj', dishc\ died - and no 
resemblance to those Holh-wood heroines who go tlirough lire 
and flood with water wave and chiffons undamaged 
‘}vlaggie, you are certainly a sad sack*’ Decker commented 
‘Neither one of you is exactly a Van Johnson,’ I snapped They 
were just as dirtj' as I, and wnth four-day beards to boot 
‘It’s your turn now, Decker,’ McCollom said ^Ve didn't c\ cn 
attempt to treat the angry gash on his forehead He took off his 
trousers and lay face doi%n "What we saw horrified us both, and 
made us realise what pain Decker had been suffering m silence. 
His back had been badl'> burned, and the bums were shockingl) 
gangrenous. It must hate been agony to hate us touch him 
But I cleaned the area as best I could and put omtment on it 
Decker, in great pain - though he net cr complained - could 
barely mote by mghtfall, and 1 tvas too sick and weak to walk 
For the next 72 hours, good, patient McCollom - himself on 



372 reader’s digest omnibus 

the verge of exhaustion — had to take care of me as if I were a 
baby. It %vas patent to all of us - though we never mentioned 
it - that Decker might- die and I would lose my legs unless the 
medical paratroopers reached us soon. 

The Army plane got through m the morning with more 
supplies ^Vc told them not to drop the medics near us. The 
terrain was too wild and hazardous All of us were afraid 
someone might be lulled trying to rescue us 

McCollom dragged the supphes to the knoll. He lugged up a 
big package of pants and shirts Then he found blankets and 
tried to make comfortable beds. At last he stumbled up the 
knoll yelhng, ‘Eureka! We eat!’ In his arms was a package of 
ten-in-one rations. If he had been Oscar of the Waldorf with a 
1 2-course banquet, we couldn’t have been happier. All of us 
reached for the same thing the canned bacon and eggs. Much 
to my amazement, I couldn’t even finish one small can. 
Apparently my stomach had shrunk. 

That afternoon Pete came to call and brought his tvife. 
Mrs Pete wore the snood-shopping-bag arrangement around 
her head, but neither she nor any of the women used ornaments 
All they wore was a G-string woven of supple twigs. They were 
graceful, fleet creatures, and as shy as does. 

We were all dog-tired by the time McCollom got us 
settled for the night. But we hadn’t been in bed an hour when 
we were surrounded by Pete and his followers. They held out a 
pig, yams and some httle green bananas. ‘They want to give 
us a banquet,’ McCollom groaned. 

We tned to make them understand that we were sick and 
exhausted. Pete, who must have had a wonderfully under- 
standing heart in that wiry black body, comprehended at once. 
He clucked over us reassunngly and herded his followers home. 

In the middle of the mght a tropic cloudburst struck us. The 
men were on higher ground Their bed was wet, but at least it 
wasn’t floating. So they had to make room for me. 

‘Lord*’ groaned McCollom. ‘Are we never to get rid of this 
woman!’ 

At noon next day the plane was over us again. They dropped 
more supplies and told us that two medical paratroopers would 
jump t^vo nules down the valley. 

When I finally spotted the medics down the native trail, I 



'CRASH IN SHANGRI-LA 


373 

couldn’t keep the tears back. Leading the way and limping 
shghtly was Corp. Ranuny Ramirez, his face spht in a wde, 
warm smile. He was better for our morale than a thousand- 
dollar bill. And behind him came S/Sgt. Ben Bulatao, one of the 
most kind and gentle men God ever put on earth. 

Both Doc, as we promptly named Bulatao, and Rammy are 
Filipinos, as were all the enlisted men who later parachuted to 
our aid. They rolled up their sleeves and went to work Rammy, 
who had sprained liis ankle, hopped around on one foot like a 
cheerful sparrow Doc made sortie after sortie into the jungle 
to bnng out the supplies. They built our first fire at mghtfall 
and made us hot chocolate It was heavenly 

Then Doc went to work on Decker and me. It took him two 
hours to-sterihse and dress Decker’s head wound, and another 
t\vo hours, working by flashhght, to dress his gangrenous bums. 
Then he started work on my legs The bandages were stuck 
fast Doc tried to get them off without hurtmg me too much, 
but he ivinccd as much as I did- 

‘You ought to see the way I rip them off’ McCollom 
encouraged him. But I %vas beyond the point where I nunded 
pain. All I ivanted was to save my legs 

Next mormng I awoke to the headiest auroma in the world - 
combination of hot coffee and fiyong bacon. Doc and Rammy 
ivere getting us our first hot meal in a week Then for six hours 
Doc peeled the encrusted gangrene from Decker’s infected 
burns Never by a flinch or a whimper did the sergeant reveal 
the torment he was enduring. In addition to his other injuries. 
It was now revealed that his right arm was broken at the elbow. 
There ivasn’t any anaesthetic or even a stiff dnnk of whisky 
available to ease lus pain 

It was a Sunday mormng when the Army plane came over 
Avith eight enlisted paratroopers and one officer, Gapt. Cecil E 
^Valters. ‘\Ve are going down to the big valley about ten miles 
away and drop the paratroopers,’ the radio operator said. ‘They 
will be wth you by nightfall.’ 

The men reached us the folloiving Friday' They jumped not 
ten but 45 miles distant. But it was good to know that help was 
coming to get us out of the valley. 

Among the suppfies dropped that Sunday was my rosary. 
Prayer books were dropped for us, too, and a Bible When Doc 

N 



reader’s digest omnibus 


374 

started the peeling process on me, I wondered how I could 
endure it. I clutched my rosary and gntted my teeth. I was 
determined to be as good a soldier as Decker. Four hours Doc 
worked on me and I didn’t make a sound, but I was yelling 
inside all the time. Still, my heart felt lighter. Decker would get 
well and I wouldn’t lose my legs. 

On Monday I felt so much better m body and in spirit that I 
wanted a bath. I was filthy. On the side of the knoll, out of 
sight of camp, Rammy set up the soldier’s universal bathtub, 
his helmet. He found soap, towels, a washcloth and clean 
clothing. Then the men carried me down the hill and left me 
to scrub up. 

I took off my pants and shirt and started to bathe. But all at 
once I felt as if I were not alone. I looked around, and there, on 
a neighbouring knoll, were the natives. I never could figure out 
whether they were goggle-eyed at the queer rite I was perform- 
ing or at a skin so different from theirs. 

On Friday afternoon, 25 May, Captain Walters blew into 
camp. He is 6 feet 4 inches tall, and looked like a giant as he 
came down the trail at the head of his Filipino boys and the 
ubiquitous escort of natives. His arrival was like a strong, fresh 
breeze. ‘Shoo-Shoo Baby,’ he was singing at the top of his lungs, 
literally jitter-bugging dotvn the trail. Five paratroopers \yere 
with him; three others had been left behind in the big valley 
to build a ghder strip. 

Walters was a personahty kid. Often after supper he would 
put on a one-man floor show with a wonderful imitation of a 
night-club singer or a radio crooner. Then he would truck and 
shag, while we and the natives watched entranced. He was 
wonderful for morale. 

Two days after Walters and his men arrived, the Army plane 
parachuted to us 20 crosses and one Star of David for the burial 
of the seven girls and 14 men killed in the crash, and the dog 
tags identifying each one. ^Valters took a burial detail to the 
scene of the crash. As they put up the star and the crosses, and 
draped each with a dog tag, the plane circled above. Over the 
radio came the saddest and most impressive funeral services I 
have ever heard. We sat around the camp, silent and very 
humble, as a Catholic, a Protestant and a Jewish chaplain in 
the plane read burial services for the dead. Our hearts ached 


CRASH IN shangri-la 


375 

for John McCollom He sat wth head bowed, his usual 
controlled self. 

Back at base the Army was expenmenting %vith glider rescue 
A plane could not land even in the big valley, but it might be 
possible to land a glider there, take us aboard, and tiaen pull 
the glider out avith a tow plane I think our virtual inaccessibdity 
really dawned on me when ^Valters explained that we were in 
an area designated on all maps as ‘unknown’. 

By this tune, Pete and his natives seemed like old and 
dear friends They adored Doc. Every morning he set ofF 
on a round of jungle calls, like a country doctor. Tropic skin 
ailments and festenng sores yielded to modem drugs like 
magic. 

When Doc finally announced, on 15 June, that Decker and I 
could travel, we said our farewells to Pete and his men. The 
term ‘savages’ hardly apphes to such land, fnendly and 
hospitable people. The greatest miracle that befdl McCollom, 
Decker and myself^ aside from our escape from death m the 
crash, was the fact that the natives were good and gentle. As 
we left, they followed us down the trail, weeping. 

I started out on the 45-mile trek to the ghder stnp with a 
chipper confidence that melted m 30 minutes. The steady 
infantry pace set by the paratroopers was too much for me. We 
crawled over fallen logs, hopped from tree stump to tree stump, 
wallowed in mud By midday, I was so lame and m such agony 
I wanted to shnek. Decker was equally badly off. But neither 
of us would give in. "We knew it was impossible for the others to 
carry us out over that jungle trail. 

Surely the followers of Moses when they came upon the 
Promised Land saw no fairer sight than that which unrolled 
before us when we stood on the last height overlooking the Big 
Valley of Shangn-La. It was a beautiful, fertile land, nnged by 
the giant peaks of the Oranje Mountains. A copper-coloured 
nver wound through the valley’s green length. There below us, 
clearly marked, was the ghder strip, and a small, neat U.S. 
Army camp. The three paratroopers who had stayed behmd 
had obviously worked like beavers. 

Captain Walters made a brave entry mto the camp, truckin’ 
every mch of the way. For this special occasion, the radio 
operator in the Army plane hovermg over us had brought 


376 reader’s digest omnibus 

along a gramophone and some records. He piped the captain i • 
into camp with some resounding boogie woogie. ; 1 

Sergeant Baylon and Sergeant Valasco couldn’t wait to show 
me the boudoir they and Master Sergeant Obremca had built. 

They had partitioned off a section of a tent as my ‘room’. They 
had made a deep bed of grass and canopied it handsomely with 
a beautiful yellow nylon parachute, and there was a bedside rug 
made of parachute bags. I was deeply touched. Everything 
about the camp was de luxe, including a bathroom with a tub 
made of waterproof ration cartons This was Grand Hotel, and 
the new guests were voluble and appreciative. 

The Army plane dropped us a bag of assorted shells to use as 
a medium of exchange with the natives. They proved magic. 

The sergeants had soon purchased seven pigs. One, a runt, was 
named Peggy in honour of me. Peggy followed everyone around | 

like a dog, and the moment any of us sat down she chmbed on 
our laps. 

The day after our arrival we started out to visit the native 
village. We were stopped by an old man of dignity and authonty. 

He showed no ill will, but made it clear that he didn’t want his 
village invaded. So I pouted as prettily as I knew how, batted 
what few stubby eyelashes I had left, and cooed, ‘Aw, Chief, 
don’t be mean!’ ’ 

Right before our eyes, the old chief melted. He motioned that 
I might proceed, but only with three others. I met the chief’s 
wife that day. We liked each other instantly. Again it was a 
case of the understanding heart, for neither of us was able to 
understand the other’s language. 

I visited the queen often after that. We would sit in the com- 
munal room where the women did the cooking, and munch hot 
yams. Her Majesty did not think much of my GI clothes. She 
wanted me to swap them for a G-string of woven twigs such as 
those worn by herself and her ladies-m-waiting. 

One day when I was visiting the queen, I absentmindedly 
ran a comb through my hair. She was enchanted. Half the 
village gathered round and I combed my hair until my arm 
was tired. 

Every piece of equipment we had in camp fascinated the 
natives. Yet they wanted none of it. They would use a good GI 
axe or jungle knife when workmg for us. But they reverted to 


CRASH IN shangri-la 


377 

the stone axe the minute they had an^^thing to do for themselves 
They w ere too smart to permit a few chance Msitors from Mars 
to change the rh)’thm of centuries. 

We found no evidence in either valley that the natives had a 
religion. There were no idols, no altars. ‘The/re behevers in 
mankmd,’ Captain IValters once said. That is as eloquent a 
tribute as anyone could make to the bcha\'iour of these kindly 
people. 

Fmally we learned that we were to be picked up in a ghder 
from the floor of Shangri-La by a C-47 transport plane nick- 
named Leaking Louise. On Thursday, 28 June, the ghder sailed 
gracefully into the ^•alIey and settled on the runway. ^Ve A\ere 
all out on the field before the pilot, Lieut Henry Paver, 
could step out of his plane. 

‘This express takes off in 30 minutes,’ he told us. 

‘Thirtj' minutes'’ I shneked. ‘^Shy, I’m not even packed.’ 

We raced back to the tents to get Ae stone axes and the bows 
and arroira e had bought as souvenirs of our life in Shangri-La. 
The C-47 circled above, waiting to snake the glider into the air. 

The natives understood that we were gomg. Tears streamed 
down their faces. I knew I was losmg some of the best and 
kindest friends I v\ ould ever have I blew my nose rather noisily, 
and discovered that McCoUom and Decker were domg the 
same thing. 

‘Don’t be upset if the tow-rope breaks on the first trj',’ Paver 
said in a tone meant to be reassuring. 

‘I\hat happens if it does?’ McCollom demanded. 

‘Well, sir, said Paver, ‘the Army’s got me insured for $10,000.’ 

I clutched my rosary and wondered if we had survived a 
hideous plane crash and so much hardship, illness and pam, 
only to be killed when rescue was so near. The C-47 roared 
down on us in a power dive. I froze to the rosarj' and the ghder 
brace. There was a sudden jolt, then we began to slide dovMi the 
strip Now v\e were off the ground and beginmng to chmb IVe 
grazed a treetop and I instmctiv^ely leaned back in horror I 
id not know imtil later how perilously close we had come to 
being spilled into the jungle a second time. The towrope had 
dragged through the trees and slowed the Louise down to 
105 m.p h , which at that altitude is slow enough to stall a big 
ship Major Samuels, at the controls, managed to keep her 



378 reader’s digest omnibus 

fljTngj but he told us afterwards what a near thing it was. When 
he was recommended for the DFC, he said \vith great feeling 
‘I wouldn’t do it again for a dozen of them!’ 

Suddenly we became conscious of a constant slap-slap on the 
bottom of the ghder. We had picked up one of the big cargo 
parachutes that marked the glider strip. Little rips began to 
appear in the frail body of the glider where the parachute kept 
rhythmically spanking it. Before long, the hole ran the width of 
the glider and was about two feet across. W’e had merely to 
look down to see everything over which we were flying It was 
nerve-racking. 

It took us only about go minutes to fly out of Shangri-La into 
Hollandia, though it seemed as many hours. But eventually 
Paver set the damaged glider down in a perfect landing. I 
stepped on to the field, 47 days after my take-off for what was 
to have been a four-hour routine flight. 

As we walked towards the photographers’ flash bulbs I 
clutched instinctively at McCollom and Decker. I realised more 
fully than ever how lucky I had been to survive the crash with 
such men. Each, in his way, had suflfered far more than I. 
Back on that mountainside, a white cross marked the grave of 
McCollom’s twin brother. Ahead of Decker stretched long 
weeks of hospital for his many injuries. 

I thought gratefully of Captain Walters and his Filipmo 
paratroopers who were still in Shangri-La. And, as I walked 
away from the ghder, into my old hfe once again, I thought of 
the 21 back on the mountain peak under the little white crosses 
and the Star of David. Only then could I weep. 


SMS' 


Many people’s tombstones should read: ‘Died at thirty. 
Buned at sixty.’ Nicholas Murray Butler. 


You can’t kiss a girl unexpectedly, only sooner than she 
thought you would. Jack Seaman. 



THE- RESCUE ON STATION CHARLIE 


Condensed from T 7 « Atlantic Monthly 

CAPTAIN PAUL B. CRONK 

At 3.40 on Monday afternoon, 13 October 1947 the giant 
flying boat Bermuda Sky Queen took off from Foynes, Eire, for 
Gander, NeAvdoundland. On board were a crew of seven and 
the largest group of passengers ever booked for a transatlantic 
flight -62, including 30 men, 20 women, 12 children. 

At 2.32 a.m., somewhat behind flight-plan schedule, the 
Queen passed Ocean Station Charlie, a weather post about 
too miles west of mid-Atlantic where the U.S. Coastguard 
cutter George M, Bibb ivas keeping her vigil. 

It had turned mto a wild, ivindy night, but the crew of the 
aircraft was ‘well satisfied ivith the progress of the flight, and 
expected no difficulty.’ The chance to return to Foynes ivhile 
there was still enough fuel remaining (the pomt of no return) 
was lost during a period of obscured stars after leavmg Station 
"Charhe. 

At five o’clock the overcast cleared and a celestial fix revealed 
a position considerably behind dead reckoning A check revealed 
the aivful truth that ground speed had been reduced by head 
winds of gale force to 59 knots and all chance of getting to 
either shore was gone. 

Firsi piAliAed %n *Tht lUada^t Di^esf tn 1950 


379 


380 reader’s digest omnibus 

Charles Martin, the 26-year-old ex-Navy pilot, was faced 
wdth a decision which, if wrong, would cost the lives of all 
aboard. The instinct to continue west towards the nearest land 
must have been strong. It was lucky for all those on the plane 
that Martin had nerve enough to put about, home in on Station 
Charlie’s beacon, and set down alongside the Coastguard 
cutter on the sea, 310 miles away 

At 647 am., the Bibb received a message* ‘Aircraft call 
KFG going to make emergency landing at Station Charlie at 
approximately 0800 ’ A message of this nature must be reported 
to the old man at once. 

Because of a senes of emergencies I had not, except for a 
cat-nap or two, slept for 72 hours prior to climbmg into my 
hammock at 5 a.m. Now, less than two hours later, my sleep 
was interrupted by a quartermaster shaking me. ‘Sir, an 
aeroplane is going to land near the ship at 0800. Shall I call you 
at 0730?’ 

‘Aye, aye; do that. Tell the OD to have the rescue gear 
broken out, and tell my steward to make some coffee.’ 

I turned over with a sigh and then he was back. ‘Sir, it is 
0730 and we have the plane on the radiophone. There are 
69 persons on board ’ 

‘All nght! Man the rescue stations.’ 

I stood in the cabin, numb ivith shock. Transatlantic planes 
carried 21 passengers - the big ones 42. A\Tio ever heard of a 
plane moseying around in the middle of the ocean with 
69 persons? I went on deck and found that a fresh gale had 
whipped up short, steep, angry cross-seas - the most dangerous 
possible condition for a plane landing. 

All the Bibb’s crew not on watch were topside - more than a 
hundred of them. All eyes were turned westward, searching. 
Scramble nets were over the sides. Boat crews stood by their 
craft. Swimmers in rubber suits ivith webbed fingers and toes 
were ready to go overboard. 

And then the 42-ton plane hove in sight. How big she was' 
My mouth was full of the dust of horror. In my mind’s eye I 
saw that flying eggshell collapse as it smashed against the 
30-foot waves; saw the wmgs wrenched off; heard the 
screams of the passengers as the sea poured in upon them. 
‘Oh, God, grant that I do not have to stand here helpless. 



THE RESCUE ON STATION CHARLIE 381 

Help me save them/ Someone near me ivas vomitmg wth 
nervousness. 

I called Pilot Martm on the phone, and gave him the 
direcnon of the s^vells and the length of the w&ves. I spoke 
cheerfully, not feeling at all cheerful. 

As Pilot Martm circled, everyone held his breath and watched 
with horrified fascination as the Queen slanted towards the sea. 
It was almost too much to bear. Not only was it seeing in your 
mind the crushed plane aivash, but everj'one knew it ivas too 
rough for lifeboats. Hoiv, WTth the ship rolling 40 degrees, could 
you take her alongside the fijung boat without beating it to 
death? 

And then Martin was dowm There are spots where the 
different w’ave systems oppose each other and create a com- 
pjuratively smooth sea Martm spied one. Flying very slowly 
against the wind, he pulled into a full stall. As seen fiom the 
cutter, he plunked into a big wave just behind the crest The 
Queen seemed to disappear completely m a great wash of white 
water, then, miraculously, she reappeared like a huge whale 
and w’allowed tow’ards the rolhng Bibk For the remainder of 
his mortal existence, every person on that plane would ow'e his 
life to the nerve and skill of Pilot Charles Martin. 

The Queen thought it would be possible to tow on a hnc from 
the cutter while some method of transferring the passengers w as 
being cooked up. The Queen started all four engmes and began 
working her plunging w'ay tow’ards our lee side. It seemed to 
be working out w'cU until, on the top of a huge wave, the plane 
w'as seen to be caught m the back ^dy of our lee and entirely 
out of control. Martin cut his engines, but it w'as too late. 
Depnv^ of the braking effect of the wind, the plane sailed 
into the cutter’s steel side. She took the impact squarely on the 
nose. 

It W'as a sickemng business and looked hke the end Rismg on 
a swell, the number-three engine struck the top of a davit, 
25 feet above the water-hne, drivmg it inboard The boat crew’ 
had evacuated so quickly that no one remembered seemg them 
do it. The next roll of the ship found the starboard wingtips 
smashing the cutter’s cat-w’alk, aft, and the next found the port 
^vingtip crashing against the bow’. The ship’s engines, mean- 
while, had been going full astern After an eternity the screw’s 



382 reader’s digest omnibus 

bit into the water and the cutter parted company \vith her 
affectionate playmate. 

We lowered a ten-oared surfboat; it was wild work. In the 
boat were lines to pass to the plane to be attached to injured 
persons so that they could be tossed overboard and hauled into 
the boat — a desperate expedient but the only one available. 

Now we lay to ivindward pumping oil on the seas to smooth 
them down. This was not too effective because we were drifting 
out of the slick at the rate of three knots and the plane was 
blowmg downwind at five knots. (It drifted 100 miles during 
the 24-hour rescue operation.) 

There were no injured to be removed, and the small boat 
reconnoitred about the plane. The boat crew saw the passengers 
peering through the windows. The boat dared not approach the 
plane from any quarter - both craft were alternately riding the 
crest and dropping dizzily into the trough. 

Because the seas were steep and short, the plane plunged 
violently many times each imnute. It reminded me of a giant 
swing at an amusement park, and I felt sick as I reahsed the 
suffering and danger of those in the plane, tossed about like 
dice in a cup. 

After an hour, the order was passed by walkie-talkie for the 
boat to stand by to be picked up. The crew were by now 
exhausted. Hoisting a boat by a vessel rolling over 40 degrees 
offers some difiiculty, but it was finally hooked on. Just as the 
boat reached the davit heads a sea rose up, unhooked the 
forward hnes and spilled the crew out of the boat. But the crew 
was well drilled; each man had a grip on the dangling life- 
hnes and now scrambled on board. 

Martin, alarmed by the damage the collision had done to the 
plane, said perhaps he had better abandon ship in his ‘ten- 
person’ life-rafts, but he was told to hang on unless the plane 
opened up. The capacity of the life-rafts was based on tliree 
persons in each raft and seven m the water hanging on to grab- 
lines. The sea temperature was 50 degrees. The weather 
forecast promised a cold front and a new gale from the 
north-w'est for the next day. That could mean that the current 
gale would move away ^vlth a short lull before the next one 
struck. 

; If Pilot Martin had to abandon ship, his people could take 



THE RESCUE ON STATION CHAREIE 383 

to their rafts or jump into the sea, and the cutter would try to 
fish them out. Over the radiophone he could be heard retching, 
but he seemed poised and csdm. It ivas asking a good deal to 
tell them to stand such a beatmg indefinitely, waitmg for the 
storm’s abatement that might not come or else would come too 
late. Yet we felt certain that hasty action might save some but 
hardly all. 

■We suggested that the plane launch a rubber raft on a line 
and see what happened to it. This was done and the cutter did 
likewise- The sm^ rafts spim about crazily in the wind. 

The cutter launched one of its 15-person abandon-ship-typc 
rubber rafts, which did a little better; but even when it stayed 
right side up on the water, the motion was so violent that it 
was evident that its use would be a desperate measure. 

At 3.30 Martin reported that the plane was taking water and 
the tail section ^vas coming loose. ‘Skipper, will you try to get 
us off, some way, before dark?’ he asked. The chips were down 
Sunset was due at 5 32. 

I instructed Martin to obtain volunteers from among the 
strongest men and get them somehow into a raft If the test we 
were about to make fdled, these would have a better chance of 
surviiting in the cold water until the cutter could drift down on 
them and pick them up. If the raft behaved well it was to 
be cast adrift; othenvise the men were to be hauled back on 
board. 

At first the operation went badly. The raft did not seem 
suffiaently mflated, and when a second flash of compressed 
GO2 gas was fed to it, it burst. Martin inflated a second raft. 
^Vhen launched it rode like a chip on the ocean ivith three of 
the plane’s passengers crowded mto it. The cutter drifted down 
upon it The loud-hailer blared admonitions not to stand or 
reach out until each man received a boivline from the cutter 
and passed it around his body. In a few minutes they were 
hauled on board. "WTule adrift it was touch and go whether 
they would make it, and the experiment demonstrated the 
impracticability of effecting the rescue by means of the small 
rafts ’SVe decided to use the large 15-person rubber rafts from 
the ship. 

With darkness approachmg, the action became fast and 
furious In no time at all, one large raft ■was leakmg to the point 



384 reader’s digest omnibus 

where it was useless; a second had been tossed by the sea into 
the ship’s propeller; the third and last was bobbing alongside, 
trying to beat itself to pieces. 

It was clear that towing this raft on shuttle trips was going to 
be impractical. A huddle on the bridge produced the plan of 
launching our heavy motor surf boat, towing the raft to the 
plane, and mooring it there as a loading platform. 

The Coastguard 26-foot self-bailing surfboat is the finest 
all-round rescue craft in existence Girdled with flotation tanks 
and filled beneath the entire deck with air cells, it sheds water 
like a duck. But it was designed for use at surf stations, where it 
is put into the water from a special launchway. 

Launching the 5,800-pound boat from a rolling ship is 
another matter. In less than a minute the ship had swung the 
boat afoul of the cradle and tom off the rudder shoe. It was a 
race against darkness to repair the damage, with the heavy 
motor-boat trying to brain the artificers. Finally it was launched 
and away from the ship, towmg the big rubber raft down- 
wind. 

It was not easy going. The light towline broke repeatedly, 
resulting in a chase each time, and a heavier line could not be 
used for fear of teanng the raft’s thin walls of duck and rubber. 
They finally made it, however, and at 5.30 p.m., two minutes 
before sunset, the raft began receiving passengers from the 
plane. The traditional precedence of ‘women and children 
first’ was put aside in favour of ‘famihes will not be separated’. 

The first family to leave consisted of an 1 8-month-old baby 
held m her father’s arms, a five-year-old boy clinging to his 
mother, and a nine-year-old boy who was put in the care of 
another woman. The raft was hauled as close to the bow of the 
plane as could be done without getting it caught underneath. 
First, a man made the leap successfully. The father followed, 
the baby in his arms; then the mother, holding her five-year- 
old son. 

The plane in calm water was 20 feet high; when a trough of 
the sea passed, the raft would be 30 to 40 feet below the exit 
hatch. Some time during this downward plunge the nine-year- 
old boy jumped and landed in the sea. As he was hauled aboard 
the raft, the boy complained, ‘I am ruimng my good suit ’ 
Other passengers landed squarely in the raft. 



THE RESCUE ON STATION CHARLIE 385 

The ticklish business of the transfer to the motor surffaoat 
followed. This was necessary because the raft was not staunch 
enoug^h to be towed and the surfboat could not lie alongside the 
plane for fear of puncturing it. When the surfboat came 
alongside the cutter’s landing nets, its passengers were to be 
hauled on board by hnes secured under their arms. 

On board the cutter, excitement was at high pitch The boat 
crashed against the side as the tvmd pressed the ship doivn upon 
it, tossing ^vildly up to the rail, dotm out of sight into the 
darkness, flayed by the wind and spray - and in the imdst of it 
all a baby held aloft. Eager hands reached out for it A woman 
in the boat, hysterically resisting attempts to place a line about 
her, screamed, ‘Save my baby! Save my baby*’ So anxious was 
everj'one to get the baby quickly on board that men got in 
each other’s way. A burly man shouted, ‘Let go, you stupid 
bastard* Are you trymg to drown that baby?’ What was funny 
was that he was sobbing. The baby was finally snatched up by 
those on the nets and passed on board. 

The women were hauled on board, weak and limp As they 
placed their feet on the deck and sensed their Scifety, they 
collapsed and were earned to the sick bay. 

The boats, the nets, the deck had been a nightmare of 
shouting, tusshng, weeping and cursing crew. Curses of e.\cite- 
ment on their lips but prayers in theur hearts. 

At 6 10 p m. a group of ten were hauled up the nets, and at 
6 34 p m 11 more. During this third tnp the gale reached 
45 knots. As we watched Ae plane careemng dizzily in the 
beam of the searchhght and the boat threatemng to capsize as 
the waves broke through the oil slick into breakers, disaster 
seemed at hand. 

What ivas happening to the raft while it was being battered 
by the seas was not good. The motor surfboat was not doing 
so well either. As it lay alongside, it was repeatedly submerged 
or slammed into the side of Ae ship, and it began to show signs 
of premature old age 

The boat rode too deep in the ivater as it again set out for 
the plane - the air tanks were filhng up. I judged that this 
would be Its last tnp In the meantime, the plane had dnfted 
too far away for comfort -my comfort -and the rzift had 
broken away from the plane. \^^en after a desperate search in 



386 reader’s digest omnibus 

the darkness, Lieutenant Hall, the surfboat’s coxswain, finally 
found it, it was already deflating. 

This time there were 16 passengers in the raft -too many. 
Their legs and arms were so entangled that no one could be 
swept away by the sea. It was sink or swim together. They 
were all yanked into the surfboat but what with the overload 
and the leaky tanks, the boat, too, began to sink. However, 
Hall had no trouble persuading three of the passengers to go 
back into the rubber outfit ivith three of the boat crew. 

The raft was held alongside the surfboat by hand. The signal 
light weis sought m order to call the ship for help. It could not 
be found in the tangle of humamty. 

Just then the propeller fouled some of the stray lines of the 
raft The gear-case flew to pieces, the engine housing was 
smashed by a wave, and the tail shaft and propeller disappeared 
The boat broached broadside to the sea, wave after wave 
washed over it. Boat and raft were kept right side up by delicate 
balancing by the crew. 

With the searchlights playing on the scene, I could see 
people changing places between raft and boat. Both craft 
seemed too deep in the water, but if they were in trouble they 
should have signalled with their hght. If I should drift down on 
them before they had completed their transfer, someone might 
get hurt. On the other hand, if the boat has lost too much 
buoyancy . . . 

I eased the ship nearer and called them on the loud-hailer. 
‘Are you all right^ Acknowledge with your light.’ There was 
no answering flash. They shouted something no one could 
understand. I worked the ship upwind and drifted down. 

We were just in time. A rolling ship, a slashmg sea, a 
swamped, sinkmg boat and a submerged raft battering each 
other and alternately one on top of the other, 21 half-drowned 
people mixed up in it. The whole works tossed up almost to 
the ship’s deck by one wave, then dropped down far out of 
reach by the next. 

The boat crew and the passengers were by turns in the boat, 
in the raft and in the sea. Some of the crew were trymg to get 
lines around the passengers, others were grabbing someone out 
of the water. Suddenly I saw two persons washed out of the 
raft and whisked aft into the darlmess. Someone leaned far 



THE RESCUE OS STATIOX CHARLIE 38/ 

over from the bow of the suifboaL One hand held the gum\ ale, 
the other darted dou-n into the sea. A collar with a head 
sticking out appeared, grasped by the outstretched hand, and I 
heard a triumphant ‘Got him’’ 

All those who were washed out of the boat were saved- "What 
■\\e did was to bend a hne around a man’s chest and send him 
over the side wth a Ime to tie around a passenger. Both lines 
%vere tended on deck by a group. Teams formed all along the 
ship, and somewhere along the line the drifters were latched 
on to It was pretty rugged for those men danghng from lines, 
dunked in the cold sea as the ship rolled, but they were so 
excited that not one I questioned noticed the cold. 

In less time than it takes to tell it, the 21 passengers were all 
out of the sea and safe on board. iVlike Hall was the last up. 
He tottered up to me, saluted, and said, ‘Sir, permission to 
take another boat over and get the rest of them’’ 

My reply was, ‘I think you’\e had enough Anyhow, go 
below and get some drj’ clothe on. First go to the sick bay and 
get a snort.’ 

The loss of the motor surfboat dimmed the prospects of 
completing the rescue. It was certain that a pulling boat could 
not tow the raft fast enough to catch the dnfang plane which 
was movmg at four to five knots. But if the boat and raft were 
to be dropped downwmd of the plane in hne with the plane’s 
drift, it imght be possible to close in quick as the plane blew 
dow'n and pass the raft’s painter to it 

I sent for Ensign Macdonald. ‘Mr Macdonald, do you think, 
if w'e put you near the plane, thatyou can take six volunteers, row 
over and pass the raft painter to the plane with a shoulder gun?’ 

Macdonald had seen what had happened to the strong motor 
surfboat; he was shivering with excitement. ‘I’ll do mv best, 
sirl’ He called over the pubhe-address system for volunteers 
Immediately there w’as the sound of runmng feet from all 
directions. I cannot say what number volunteered, but it 
seemed to be everj'body. 

They w’ere out there from g 39 imtil 10.45 P dark- 

ness, m a gale, with only six oars. Someumes we caught tliem 
with the searchlight on a crest, but mostly ive could not 
see them 

They passed the raft to the plane — a wonderful bit of boat- 



reader’s digest omnibus 


388 

work. I would not have given a plugged nickel for their chances. 
I just hoped. Then they waited an hour for the raft to appear 
with people in it, and nothing happened. They conceded failure 
and gave it to me on the handy talkie radio. 

We got them back on board with their boat. They were used 
up. But the plane did have the raft. 

I called the officers about me ‘Shall we take a chance on the 
plane’s staying afloat until daylight? If it does we can most 
likely get every last one of them off Or should we save all we 
can now?’ 

Various conjectures were voiced, but the expression that 
seemed to ring a bell of conviction to all present was • ‘^Ve have 
used up all our luck tonight. We came awful close to disaster 
that last trip. Let’s not push our luck too far.’ 

If the plane should show sudden signs of sinking, the 22 
people on board could go for the raft - some would be on it, 
others in the water hanging on to the grab-lines. I was confident 
I could drift the ship down on them within a few minutes." 
Anyhow, Pilot Martin must decide. 

The plane’s radio was dead and we had not had good results 
with blinker, so I took the ship close to him and used the bull 
horn. ‘How do you feel about spending the night on the plane^’ 
It seems an absurd question to have asked, but the plane’s 
landing lights flashed a dot followed by a dash, meaning 
‘Affirmative’. Then complete darkness again; not a light 
anywhere on the plane We settled down to watch our charge 
for seven anxious hours. 

With the plane spotted in the searchlight, I toured the ship 
All hands had been broken out at 7 am. and had been 
strenuously engaged since. Half the crew were told they could 
hit the sack until called for. The others assisted with the 
survivors and tended the engineering plant. 

At 6 45 a.m., sunrise, the tvind was no more than a fresh 
breeze. A treacherous swell was running but, compared with 
the night before, conditions were mild. The captain’s gig was 
lowered to transfer the remaining passengers; soon it was back 
with eight survivors. 

The gig shoved off again, got near enough to the raft to take 
off two passengers, then had engine trouble and drifted away. 
A pulling boat was launched and took off six more. 



THE PERFECT CASE 


389 

One more trip and total success iNOuld be ours - something 
I had not dared to hope for. I \\*as taut as an E-string, feanng 
some last-minute mishap But the pulling boat came back \rith 
the last simivors, and the noble raft t\as cut adrift, its work 
finished The gig had got its motor running and pulled up 
alongside, and at 8.33 a m. the last passenger climbed o\cr the 
rail. 

As for Pilot Martin, his was the triumph. Triumph o\er the 
sea and the air. Triumph over himself. Ebs ner\'e in turning 
back, his mcomparable landmg and his fortitude in keeping his 
plane under control after landmg had made this rescue possible. 

We could not start for port just yet; not wTtli the big seaplane 
wallowing on the surface, a menace to narigation. "Word came 
that the operators agreed to destroying it, and I hastened to 
do so. 

^Ve poured explosive and tracer bullets into the Queen. There 
\vas not enough petrol left to make a belch of flame, but the 
lub-oil tanks by each of the engines burned fiercely, and by 
and by some petrol took fire. The giant tail dropped off, the 
wings drooped, and the Bermuda Sfy Queen ga\ e up the ghost. 
She was a staunch old girl, though. She kept ah\e until all her 
people were saved. Then, dowm she went m a blaze of glor) 

THE PERFECT CASE 

Condensed from The Rotanan 
AKTHONY ABBOT 

For a quarter of a centurj it wtis the after-supper habit of the 
Rev. Hubert Dahme, pastor of St Joseph’s Church, to take a 
\valk through downtown Bndgeport. At 7 40 on the night of 
4 February 1924 he was passing along ilain Street, his head 
bent against blasts of winter ^vmd, his hands deep m the pockets 
of his buttoned overcoat. "WTiere the southerly side of High 
Street meets Main, a man suddenly appeared behind the pnest. 
He raised his right hand, which dutched a reiohcr, took aim 

Ftrsf tn *The lUaitfs tn 1945 



reader’s digest omnibus 


390 

and fired. The shot rang out in the freezing darkness and the 
murderer turned and ran. 

Seven witnesses agreed that the murderer was a young man 
of medium height, that he wore a cap and a dark, three-quarter 
overcoat with velvet collar; and that they could see the ghtter 
of a revolver in his hand as he ran off. Motive there seemed 
none. People of all faiths had loved Father Dahme; 12,000 
persons shuffled past his coffin. From behind a screen, the 
\vitnesses scrutinised every mourner — but did not recognise the 
killer.- 

As days passed, no worth-while clue was found, although 
thousands of dollars were offered in rewards. Newspapers and 
public were becoming indignant, when the pohce suddenly 
announced that the mystery was solved, the killer safely behind 
bars Patrolmen in nearby Norwalk had nabbed a penniless 
tramp who gave his name as Harold Israel; he was young and 
of medium height; he wore a cap and a three-quarter length 
overcoat with a velvet collar, and m his pocket he was totmg a 
small black 32-calibre revolver. 

The autopsy had disclosed that Father Dahme was killed 
tvith a •32-calibre bullet. 

The prisoner told a luckless yam. After some soldiering in 
Panama, he had followed two buddies to Bridgeport, but failing 
to find work there he was now hiking to Pennsylvania. And he 
had an alibi * at the time of the crime he was watching a picture 
called The Leather Pushers. 

Then came the witnesses to have a look at him. Ballistics 
experts compared the rifling of his revolver barrel with the 
lump of lead from the dead man’s skull. And one of the prisoner’s 
friends, a waitress, had a long private talk with the authorities. 
Popular excitement was at feverish height when Harold Israel 
suddenly made a hideous confession. Out of work, hungry, 
desperate, he declared he had felt something snap in his 
brain; overcome by fury, he slew the first human being in 
sight. 

On 27 May the Criminal Superior Court was crowded when 
State’s Attorney Homer Cummings, later Attorney-General 
in the Roosevelt Cabinet, rose to present the case of The People 
agamst Harold Israel. The gangling prosecutor stood near a 
large map of downtown Bndgeport. On the trial table lay 



THE PERFECT CASE 


391 

revolver, bullets and shells, a cap, an overcoat — ominous 
exhibits Bets were being made m the corridors that the jury 
would find Israel guilty without leaving the box. 

The prosecutor summarised ten points against the defendant 

(1) . The accused had signed a confession, fully admitting the 
crime. 

(2) . He had led the police over the route of flight 

(3) . He wore a cap and an overcoat wth a velvet collar. 

(.j). Two witnesses saw a man XMth a cap and velvet-collared 
overcoat actually do the shooting. 

(3). A moment later two other witnesses saw the fleeing 
slater in cap and overcoat. 

(6) . All four witnesses identified Israel as the person they had 
seen running away from the fallen body 

(7) . Ten minutes after the crime, at a distance from the 
scene, another witness saw a man, exhausted from running, 
and wearing a cap and a coat witli velvet collar. 

(8) . The waitress, wiio knew Israel w'cll, wax'ed to him 
through the restaurant window, close to the murder scene and 
only a few' moments before the crime, thus blasting his motion- 
picture alibi. 

(g). Tlic pnsoncr revealed to the pohee that he had hidden 
the shell of tlic fatal bullet in his room. Such a shell was found 
there by the police. 

(10). The prisoner’s revolver w’as declared by an expert to 
be the weapon from which the murder bullet was discharged. 

Then the State’s Attorney spoke solemnly: 

‘There is no evidence that this pnsoncr was subjected to any 
physical saolcnce or any form of torture commonly knosvn as 
the Third Degree. My own view' nos that, if the facts w'ere 
subject to vcnfication, tlic accused svas undoubtedly guilty . 
But if goes iLilhout sajtng that if tsjusl as important for a State's 
Attorn^' to use the great poivers of his office to protect the innocent as it 
IS to convict the guilt}'.’ 

Tlic pale man in the prisoner’s dock looked up unbelievingly 
There w'as a sense of conflict in the air, as if this tall, deep-toned 
prosecutor saw and recognised in process not merely the tnal 



392 reader’s digest omnibus 

of one accused man but a struggle of law and truth itself against 
ignorance and greed and all the evil that men know and 
practice. 

Cummings rumbled on. You will find his astounding address 
recorded in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, in the 
American Law Review, and other legal journals; it is analysed and 
praised in the historic report of the Wickersham Commission. 
I have heard the yam as Cummings spins it over coffee cups. 
But he told it best on that long-ago May morning in a hushed 
trial room, without notes or memoranda, soberly, from the 
heart. 

The State’s Attorney had investigated the prisoner’s confes- 
sion. And here were the facts about that: 

Three physicians designated by the State Attorney’s office 
reported that when Israel signed the document he was in a 
highly jittery state, mentally exhausted and quite cowed by the 
identifications of witnesses. His collapse came because every- 
thing seemed against him; having confessed, he promptly fell 
into a deep slumber, he told Cummings he would have 
admitted anything to get some rest. After a night’s sleep he 
reiterated his innocence. Now State’s Attorney Cummings, 
quoting the state’s chosen physicians, was labelhng the confes- 
sion worthless. 

The prisoner had indeed ridden with the police over the 
route of the flight, but that excursion was meaningless because 
there was not in the entire confession, nor in what Israel 
showed his captors en route, any new fact' nothing was 
volunteered. Israel, still in an exhausted state, had merely 
assented to everything. 

As for the cap and the overcoat with the velvet collar, 
Cummings revealed that certain witnesses hadn’t remembered 
them at all until after they read the papers. Some had said it 
was a green cap, others grey. Israel’s cap was neither green nor 
grey, but bro^vn Scores of men, some right in the courtroom, 
wore three-quarter length overcoats - and velvet collars were 
epidemic' 

‘How easy it is,’ exclaimed Cummings, ‘for similarities in 
appearance, and especially in clothes, to be made the basis for 
a mistaken identification!’ 

Yet four Bridgeport citizens said they had seen this very man 



THE PERFECT CASE 


393 

Israel running away from the dying pnest. To try the facts for 
himself, Cummings had staged certain discreet dramatics at 
Mam and High Streets. One deputy state’s attorney played the 
part of the victim, another the murderer. Others posted them- 
scKcs exactly where the witnesses had stood, six feet away, 
20 feet, 100 feet As Cummings told the court: 

‘There is an electric light about 50 feet from the place in 
question. A witness would have to fix the features of the 
accused in his mind w ithm three or four seconds, and in a dim 
light I am shocked when I think that any person would, two 
weeks after, assert a positive identification of a person he had 
nc\cr seen before based upon such circumstances.’ 

But the waitress' She knew Israel w’ell and had waved to him 
onl\ a short while before the crime. First Cummings checked 
the moMC house, Israel’s alibi coincided to the minute with the 
showing of the picture. That mght the State’s Attorney planted 
himself behind the hash-house counter with the waitress 
Person after person marched up and doivn the street, and 
neither Cummings nor the girl could tell who they were 
Double sheets of stcam> glass in the window, plus reflection 
from lights, made the pavement scene a blur; one of Cummings’ 
assistants, moving by and w'aving, was an 'unrecognisable 
phantom The w’aitrcss could not identify her owm fnends who 
passed by. She finally confessed that a lawyer had already put 
in a claim for the cash rewards for her. 

Onlj testimony about the revolver remained, but that was 
the most serious of all The empty cartridge on display had 
been found in tlic rooming house bathroom where Israel and 
his two buddies had lived. But investigation uncovered a great 
many more shells there as well' The landlady explained that the 
three ex-soldiers had often practised shooting from the bathroom 
window at a target in her ^'ard, and had thrown the empty 
shells behind the tub 

Suspicious now of all the evidence, Cummings called m a 
{brmidablc array of technicians from the Remington and 
\Vinchcstcr factories. Six experts pointed out hidden fallacies in 
the original ballistic analysis. The markings of discharged 
bullets are as infallible as fingerprints, but the grooves in the 
dead man’s slug had been misread 'With bullets, guns and 
magnified photographs, Cummings proved this to the court. 



reader’s digest omnibus 


394 

One final point everyone else had overlooked: all the 
•witnesses swore they had seen a shiny revolver in the murderer’s 
hand. But Israel’s revolver, black and lustreless, never so much 
as gleamed. 

After this amazing story of detective work, Cummings told 
the court: ‘I do not think that any doubt of Israel’s innocence 
can remain. Therefore, if Your Honour approves, I shall enter 
a nolle prosequi and let this innocent man go free!’ 

‘So ordered!’ declared the court. 

The mystery of the Dahme murder remains unsolved to this 
day Several years after the trial Homer Cummings heard from 
Harold Israel. A vagabond no more, he had a job, a wife and a 
child, a house, a car - the man against whom gallows e'vidence 
had been prepared.' But for the right kind of law enforcement he 
might have been ashes in a nameless grave. 


aMC' 


LIFT UP YOUR EYES TO MARVEL 

j* 

Condensed from Natural History 
CLYDE FISHER 

Honorary Curator of Astronomy, American Museum of Natural History 

AS TOLD TO HENRY MORTON ROBINSON 

Loor up at the star-studded vault of the heavens on a clear, 
moonless night. The shimmering grandeur of the spectacle 
quickens one’s sense of awe, and dwarfs by comparison the 
designs - even the significance — of man. Few gazers will 
escape the overwhelming questions of plan and purpose that 
the stars suggest; stiU fewer ivill be unmoved by Aeir celestial 
beauty. 

Seemingly a million stars are visible to the naked eye. Actually, 
since we can observe only half the sky at one time (the other 
half being on the farther side of the earth), 3,500 is a hberal 

First published in ‘The Reader’s DtgesF in 1948 



LIFT UP YOUR EYES TO MARVEL 


395 

estimate of the number of individual stars that can be seen 
•tvithout optical aid. 

■\Vith a good pair of field-glasses this number can be increased 
to 120,000. The loo-inch telescope at Mt ^\'llson shoivs about 
1,500 milhon. But there are numberless more, too remote for 
any instrument to detect. 

Because stars have been the guides and familiars’of man the 
mariner, shepherd and camel driver for hxmdreds of centuries, 
the more conspicuous ones have beautiful names given them by 
•flie Greeks, Romans and Arabs. Polaris, the NorA Star; Altair, 
in file constellation of the Fljong Eagle; Arcturus, in the Bear- 
Driver, glow -ttith poetic associations as ell as stellar light. 
tVith a little practice and the aid of a star-chart, these and 
hundreds of ofiier stars can be easily located with the naked eye 
and identified by their colour and magnitude. 

Ptolemy, the Egyptian astronomer, divided the stars into six 
magnitudes or degrees of brightness. The famtest stars visible to 
the unmded eye are of the sixth magmtude; stars two and a half 
times brighter are of the fifth magmtude, and so on until we are 
dazzled by the blazing stars of the first magmtude such as 
Sirius, Arcturus, Rigel and Procyon. 

The colours of stars range through the whole chromatic scale. 
’iVe can distinguish the sullen red of Betelgeuse, the flushed 
■yellow of Mira, the sapphire hue of Vega. Stars vary’ m colour 
because they’ vary in temperature. Just as a bar of iron vi hen 
heated becomes first a duU red, then yellow, then almost white 
as Its temperature rises so a dull-red star like Aldebaran will be 
least hot -about 6,000° F. at the surface. Yellowish stars, 
Capella for example, are twice as hot The hottest stars in the 
sky’ are blue-white, Spica, a blue-white star in the constellation 
Virgo, has a surface temperature of 36,000°. 

To measure a star’s temperature, the astronomer uses a bolo- 
meter— an electrical instrument which exposes a blackened 
platinum strip to the radiations of the stars, thereby recording 
with minute accuracy the heat of their exteriors. The thermo- 
couple, another type of ‘astral thermometer’ used bv the 
astronomer, is a tiny ‘radio-tube set’ placed at the main focus 
of a telescope. 

As v\e gaze at the stars most of them seem of approximately 
the same size. But they vary’ greatly. Some can be measured by 



396 reader’s digest omnibus 

the interferometer, one of the most remarkable tools in the 
astronomer’s kit. In 1920, Professor A. A. Michelson noted (as 
had many before him) that, when he focused his telescope on a 
star, rings of alternating light and darkness called ‘diffraction 
patterns’ were seen around it. Michelson arranged two sets of 
mirrors on the ‘diffraction pattern’ of the star Betelgeuse so 
ingeniously that he was able to record the difference between 
the two sets of reflections. Using these differences as the basis 
of some complex mathematics, he worked out the diameter of 
the star as 270,000,000 miles -a monster with a diameter 
30,000 times greater than our earth. Yet Betelgeuse is a pygmy 
alongside the gigantic Alpha Herculis - a star so fantastically 
huge that if it were in the position of our sun it would engulf the 
earth and extend out beyond the orbit of Mars* 

Smee thousands of stars of comparable size scintillate in the 
heavens, one might think that the sky would be overcrowded. 
But as one astronomer has remarked: ‘Set three wasps flying 
over Europe, and its skies would be more crowded with wasps 
than space is with stars!’ 

For interstellar space is unthinkably vast. The sun (a star at 
the centre of our solar system) is a mere 93,000,000 miles from 
our earth. At the outermost ring of our solar system lies the 
planet Pluto, four thousand milhon miles from the sun. Then a 
great gap - an abyss of space that practically isolates our solar 
system from the rest of the universe - until, 25,000,000 million 
nules^ away. Alpha Gentauri appears. But Sirius is about twice 
as distant! Light reaches us in eight minutes from the sun, but 
it takes over eight years to reach us from Sirius. 

These gleaming pin-points of light form merely the fore- 
ground of the cosmic picture. Much farther away we behold a 
great belt of faint pearly light spanning the sky like a powdery 
arch. This is the Milky Way, formed by the combmed light of 
some 100,000,000,000 stars too remote to be seen separately, 
plus enormous quantities of stardust, the embryonic material, 
so to speak, of stars yet imbom. 

Sir James Jeans describes the Milky Way as the rim of a great 
cartwheel revolving around a central hub 50,000 light years 

^ Stellar distances are so great that astronomers measure in terms of the ‘hght 
year’. Smee hght travels about 11,000,000 miles a mmute, a hght year is 
approximately six bilhon miles 



. LIFT UP YOUR EYES TO MARVEL 


397 

from the earth. Our sun is one of the lesser stars of this s>stem 
In this galax)' (and there are at least 100,000,000 others sinular 
to it in the universe) our proudful earth is comparable to a speck 
of pollen floating over the Padfic Ocean- 

But measurable distance still stretches out beyond tlie Milk\ 
■\Va^ ! Aided by the biggest telescopes at Mt IViIson, astronomers 
pick up the hght of ‘globular dusters’, bee-like swarms of stars 
so distant that their ra^s take 18,000 to 184,000 years to reach 
the earth. The star-beam that strikes the eye of the astronomer 
tomght from globular cluster M-13 m Hercules, for example, 
left its source about the time Neanderthal man appeared on our 
planet. 

If the remoteness of these globular clusters challenges the 
imagination, the still greater distances of the so-called ‘island 
universes’ paralyse it Far out in remote depths of space tiiese 
‘star clouds’ rush at ternfjmg velodties towards the very' nm of 
the universe. Professor Harlow Shaplcy of Han ard has demon- 
strated that light firom Nebula hI-87 takes 8,000,000 years to 
reach us' 

A great deal of nonsense has been wTitten about discoicncs 
to be made ivitii the new 2oo-inch telescope atop Mt Palomar 
in California. The giant glass w'ould be criimnally wasted, for 
example, in gazing at the moon; instruments of moderate size 
{six to twenty inches) are the most eficctive for such studies The 
primary function of the new telescope is to gather light from 
unbelievably distant parts of the umverse, to add vastly to our 
knowledge of outer space a thousand milhon light years 
away. 

Among the problems it may solve is the enigma of ‘empU'’ 
space. Is the cosmos dosed, fimte in size, ivith definable 
boundaries? (This behef is based on Einstein’s theory that space 
bends back upon itself- somewhat like the curvature of the 
earth’s surface.) Or is it, as Eddmgton behev es, an ‘Expanding 
Universe’, filled with millions of galaxies hke our own, con- 
tinually'radngfrom each other at incredible speeds into boundless 
savaimas of space^ 

Our present stars are still in a furious state of cosmic con- 
flagration, an atomic chain reaction transforming their original 
material into heat, hght and dectro-magnetic waves. Our sun 
(a tiny star), for example, conv'crts 4,200,000 tons of matter 



reader’s digest omnibus 


398 

into energy every second And it is this potential convertibility 
of ‘mass’ into ‘energy’ - daringly expressed by Einstein as a 
theoretic formula in 1905 - that gave our physicists their first 
positive clue to the awful and unhmited power locked in the 
terrestrial atom. 

A star is nothing more or less than a vast atomic pile per- 
petually in explosion. Under the bombardment of terrific heat 
at the centre, its atoms of gas are completely shattered. The 
debris of electrons and nuclei dashes about in chaotic disorder. 
Yet so terrific is the internal pressure at the core of the star that 
the shattered atoms are crushed together into masses of un- 
paralleled density - so great that a cubic inch of their substance 
may weigh several tons. (Compared with these heavy atoms, our 
seemingly solid earth is composed of dandelion fluff.) In sphttmg 
the uranium atom, our nuclear physicists merely tapped on a 
tiny scale the energy-creating processes taking place constantly 
in the stars. 

Today practically all astronomical observation is done by 
photography stars too dim to be seen even with the aid of the 
largest lens can be recorded on sensitised photographic plates 
exposed for hours (or days). Changes that might not be detected 
by the keenest human observer are spotted by the telescopic 
camera. By labonous mathematics Professor Percival Lowell 
calculated that the planet Pluto must exist on the outermost 
ring of our solar system. But it took 15 years and thousands of 
photographic plates to locate this wanderer of the skies. 

What, it will be asked, is the ultimate significance of the vast 
processes being worked out by the stars? Is there an Intelhgence 
operating behmd the colossal panorama of which we can see 
only an infinitesimal part? Sir James Jeans, among others, 
inclines to believe there is. He suggests, in brief, that the uni- 
verse is a magnificent and orderly system. The heat of the ’stars 
IS being ‘stepped dowm’ by radiation, from higher to lower levels 
of energy, and he argues that the process must eventually end 
when all energy is reduced to its final low-tensioned form. No 
one can conclusively deny his proposition that the stars came 
into existence only to bum themselves out Indeed, the laws of 
thermodynamics bear him out. He states, in essence, ‘God is a 
mathematician; the universe was not created for human bemgs 
at all.’ 



TWENTY MINUTES OF REALITY 399 

Some may find deeper appeal in the philosophy of another 
astronomer, the beloved ‘Unde John' Brashear, who asked 
that these words from a poem he had read m his youth 
be placed above the spot where he and his %\-ife will rest for 
eternity ‘\Ve have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of 
the mght.’ 

Under any interpretation, the fiery- consummation of which 
Sir James Jeans speaks wall take miUions of ccntuncs before it is 
completed 'We have been gi\en ample time, if wc will but take 
it, to lift up our ey^es to marvel at the magnificent stellar bonfires 
blazing in the heavens. 


TWENTY AlINUTES OF REALITY 

Condensed from The At^anlic Monthly 

MARGARET PRESCOTT MONTAGUE 

It happened to me on a day when my bed was first pushed 
out of doors to the open gallery of the hospital, I w as rccoi cnng 
from an operation. I had undergone physical pain, and had 
suffered for a short time the most acute mental depression I have 
ever encountered. Somewhere doira under the anaesthetic, in 
the black aby'ss of unconsdousness, I seemed to hai e discovered 
a terrible secret, that there was no God; or, if there ivas one. He 
w’as indifferent to all human suffering. 

The acuteness of that depression had faded, and only a scar 
of fear was left when my bed wais wheeled out to the porch It 
wais an ordinary' cloudy' hlarch day, almost a dingy day . The 
branches were bare and colourless, and the half-melted piles of 
snow were a forlorn grey Colourless little city sparrows flew 
and chirped in the trees. Here, m this eiery’day' setting, and 
entirely unexpectedly', my eyes were opened and for the first 
time in all my’ life I caught a ghmpse of the ecstatic beauty of 
reahty. 

I cannot say' exactly what the mysterious change w’as, or 
w'hether it came suddenly or gradually. I saw no new’ thing, but 


FtrH m tn 1947 



reader’s digest omnibus 


400 

I saw all the usual things in a miraculous new light - in what 
I believe is their true light. I saw for the first time how wildly 
beautiful, beyond any words of mine to describe, is the whole of 
life. 

It was not that for a few keyed-up moments I imagined all 
existence to be beautiful, but that my inner vision was cleared 
to the truth so that I saw the actual loveliness which is always 
there; and I knew that every man, woman, bird and tree, every 
living thing before me, was extravagantly beautiful, and extrava- 
gantly important. A nurse was walking past, the wind caught a 
strand of her hair and blew it out in a momentary gleam of 
sunshine, and never in my life before had I seen how beautiful 
beyond all belief is a woman’s hair. A little sparrow chirped 
and flew to a nearby branch, and I honestly believe that only 
‘the morning stars singing together, and the sons of God shout- 
ing for jo/ can in the least express the ecstasy of a bird’s flight. 
I cannot express it, but I have seen it. 

Once out of all the grey days of my life I have looked into 
the heart of reality; I have witnessed the truth, I have seen 
life as it really is - ravishingly, ecstatically, madly beautiful, 
and filled to overflowing with a wild j'oy, and a value 
unspeakable. 

Besides all the j'oy and beauty, there was a wonderful feeling 
of rhythm as well, only it was somehow just beyond the grasp 
of my mind. I heard no music, yet there was an exquisite sense 
of time, as though all life went by to a vast, imseen melody. 
Everything that moved wove out a little thread of rhythm in 
this tremendous whole. WTien a bird flew, it did so because 
somewhere a note had been struck for it to fly on; or else its 
flying struck the note; or else again the great Will that is Melody 
willed that it should fly. 

Then the extraordinary importance of everything! It seemed 
as though before my very eyes I actually beheld the truth of 
Christ’s saying that not even a sparrow falls to the ground 
without the knowledge of the Father in Heaven. Yet what 
the importance was, I did not grasp. If my heart could have 
seen just a httle further I should have understood. Even now 
the tips of my thoughts are for ever on the verge of graspmg it, 
for ever just missing it. It was perhaps as though that great 
value in every living thing were not so much here and now in 


TWENTY MINUTES OF REALITY 4OI 

ourselves as somewhere else. There is a significance in c\ci^ 
created thing,- but the sigidficance is beyond our present grasp 
hlilton has said: 

. . . What if earth 
Be hut the shadow of Heaven — 

1\Tiat if" here we are only symbols of ourselves, and our real 
being is somewhere else - perhaps in the heart of God’ Certamh 
that unspeakable importance had to do with our relationship to 
the great \\Tiole, but ^\hat the relationship was I could not tell. 
Was it a relationship of lo\e towards us’ For those flecung, 
lovely moments I did indeed love my neighbour as m\self Nay, 
more of myself I was hardly conscious, w'hile with my neighbour 
m every form, from wind-tossed brandies and httle sparrows 
flying, up to human beings, I was madly in love Is it likely that 
I could have experienced such love if there were not some such 
emotion at the heart of Reahty’ 

My experience was, I think, a sort of accidental cicanng of 
the vision by the rebirth of returning health Perhaps this is the 
way in w’hich w’e should all \iew life if we were bom into it 
gnnvn up. As it is, w'hen we first arrive w’e are so engaged in the 
tremendous business of cutting teeth and taking steps that we 
have no time for outside wonders; and by the time we ha\ c the 
leisureforadmiration, hfehas lostits firstfreshness Com alcsccncc 
is a sort of grown-up rebirth, enabhng us to sec hfc with a fresh 
eye. 

Though there was nothing exactly religious m what I saw, 
the accounts given by people w'ho have passed through religious 
conversion orillummation come nearer todesenbingmy emotions 
than anything else that I have come across. 

Doubtless almost any intense emotion may open our ‘mw'ard 
eye’ to the beauty of reality. Falling in love appears to do it for 
some people. The beauties of nature or the exhilaration of 
artistic creation does it for others Poets arc not imagining - as 
the average mind believes, and as I think I always believed - 
the extravagant beauty of which they sing They are telling us 
of the truth that is there, and that they are occasionally enabled 
to see Probably any high expencncc may momcntarilv stretch 
our souk so that we catch a ghmpse of that marv’dlous beauty 
which IS alw ays there, but w hich we are not often tall enough to 



reader’s digest omnibus 


402 

perceive. Emerson says, are immersed in beauty, but our 
eyes have no clear vision.’ 

In what I saw there was nothing seemingly of an ethical 
nature. There were no rules of conduct revealed. Indeed, it 
seemed as though beauty and joy were more at the heart of 
Reality than an over-anxious morality. Perhaps at such times of 
illumination there is no need to worry over sm, for one is so 
transported by the beauty of humanity, and so poured out in 
love towards every human being, that sin becomes almost 
impossible. 

Perhaps some day again the grey veil of unreahty -will be 
swirled aside; once more I shall see into Reality. The veil was 
very thin in my garden one day last summer. The wind was 
blo\ving there, and I knew that all that wild young ecstasy at 
the heart of life was rioting with it through the tossing larkspurs 
and rose-pink Canterbury bells, and bowing with the foxgloves; 
only I just could not see it. But it is there - it is always there 
for ever piping to us, and we are for ever failing to dance. We 
could not help but dance if we could see things as they really 
are. Then we should kiss both hands to Fate and fling our 
bodies, hearts, mmd and souls mto life \vith a glorious abandon- 
ment, an extravagant, delighted loyalty, knowing that our 
•wildest enthusiasm cannot more than brush the hem of the real 
beauty and joy and wonder that are always there. 

This is how, for me, all fear of eternity has been iviped away. 
And even if there were no other life, this life here and now, if 
we could but open our dull eyes to see it, is lovely enough to 
require no far-off Heaven for its justification. Heaven is here 
and now, before our very eyes, surging up to our very feet, 
lapping against our hearts; but we, alas, know not how to let 
it in! 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 


The condensations reprinted in this book are used by permission of 
and special arrangement with the publishers holding 
the respective copyrights 

•Our Four Montlis oa an Ocean Raft’, copyright 191.7, Xo'th Ainencan Newspaper 
Alliance, Inc , 247 W. 43 St, New York 18, N Y 

‘M> Eyes Hate a Cold Nose’, from Surr^ Aftdiro-lhlj September 1944, copvnght 
1944, Suney Associates, Inc., 1 12 E 19 St, NYC 

‘London Nocturne’, from The English Sf^ehrg IForW January 1951, published by 
The English Speaking Xlmon, 38 Charles Street, Berkclet Square, London, W t 
•The Day \Vc Flew the Kites’, from Parents’ Alagaar^ Mat 1949, coptnght 1049 by 
The Parents’ Institute Inc., 52 Vanderbilt Atenue, New York 17, N \ 

‘The Night My Number Came Up’, from The Setarde^ Ecen ng Post 26 May t9i«. 
copyright 1951, The Curtis Publishing Co , Independence Sq , Philadelphia 5 Pa 
‘The Basque Sheepherder and the Shepherd Psalm’, reprinted in The Xetimel tics! 
Grower December 1949, published bt National Wool Growers Association, 414 
Pacific NaUonal Life Bldg , Salt Lake City t, Utah 

•The Victorious Vratils’, from The Pngresstse ao December 1943, Progressit e Pub 
Co 315 N Carroll St, Madison. Wis 

•Htarua of the Airwavs’, fiom Coronet March 1939, copyright 1939, Esquire- 
Coronet Inc , 919 N MiAigan Ate , Chicago, 111 

‘Child Pioneer’, from Hrorjt/n/nTia/ioral-Gima^ofeanJanuan. 1926, copyright 1925 
International Magazine Co Inc., 37 St at Eighth .Ate , NYC 
‘Obev That Impulse', dehvered otcr Columbia Broadcasting Svstem Network, 
18 March 1941 

‘A Bov kVho Was Traded for a Hone’ from the Arnencan Magazire October 1932, 
The Crowell Pub Co , 230 Park Ate , N Y G 

‘The Titanic is Unsinkable’, from Harper's .Uhgacuir January 1934, copvnght 1933, 
Harper & Brothers, 49 E 33 St, NYC 

•When Krakatoa Blew Up’, from Haiure ATagazine March 1946, copvnght 1946, 
Arnencan Nature Assn , 1214 x6 St, N W , Ikashington 6, D C 
‘Mirade Under the Arctic Sea', from The Seturdi^ Eeemrg Post 14 Januart 1950 
copyright 1950 byr the Curtis Pub Co , Independence Square, Philadelphia 5, Pa 
‘Lmcoln Goes to Gettysburg’, from Ilnfiook June 1936, copvnght 1936, The McCtll 
Co , 230 Park Ate , N Y C Repnnted by permission of Harcourt, Brace &. Co Inc 
‘Chaplain Courageous’, from Cbllur’s 23 & 30 June 1945, copvnght 1943 The 
Crowell-ColUer Pub Co , 250 Park .Ate NYC 

•kVe Hate \Mth Us Tonight-’, from The Rotaren Notember 1936, copvnght 
1936, Rotarv International, 35 E Wacker Dnvc, Chicago, 111 
‘Who Is This Mystenous Murderer”, Crom Pic a Talk Februart 1949, published 
by Plam Talk Inc., 240 Madison -Ate., New York t6, N \ 

‘Mamma and Her Bank Account’, from The Ttrorta Star U'eehfy 18 Januart 1941, 
copyright 1941, Toronto Star Ltd , 60 Kmg Street, W , Toronto, Canada 
‘Mother’s Bills’, condense from Life Il’i/A Father, by Qarence Dat, copvnght 
*935 Clarence Day Published by Alfred A Knopf, Inc., NYC, and bt 
Cbatto and kkindus, London 


403 



404 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 


‘How to Guess Your Age’, from Collia’s 12 February 1949, copynght 1949 b% 
The Crowell-CoUier Pub Co, 250 Park Ave, N.Y C How to Guess Tour Age 
copynght 1949 b> Corey Ford 

‘Gfenius Its Cause and Care’, from The Jfew Republic 17 March 1941, copyright 
1941, Editorial Publications Inc , 40 E 49 St, NYC 

‘Surgery in a Submarme’, from The Chicago Daily News 14 December 1942, 
copynght 1942, The Chicago Daily News Inc., 400 W Madison St , Chicago, 111 
‘The Amencan Language’, from The Tale Remew Spnng 1936, cop>’nght 1936, 
Yale University Press, 143 Elm St , New Haven, Con 

‘Epic of the Arctic’, from True February 1946, copynght 1945, Faw cett Pubhcations 
Inc , 1501 Broadway, New York 18, N Y 

‘Transaction in Tahiti’, from The Atlantie Monthly, December 1925, copjTight 1925, 
The Atlantic Monthly Co , 8 Arhngton St, Boston, Mass Repnnted m On the 
Stream oJTracel, copynght 1926 by Houghton MifQm Co , 2 Park St , Boston, Mass 
‘Blue Riv er in the Sea’, from Frontiers April 1939, copynght 1939, The Academy of 
Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Pa 

‘I Was a Male War Bnde’, from The Baltimore Simdty Sun 28 September 1947, 
copynght 1947, The A.S Abell Co , Baltunore & Charles Sts , Baltimore 3, Md 
‘Two for a Penny’, from The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, copyright 1939 
by John Steinbeck, published by Wilham Heinemann Ltd 
‘When Hannah Var Eight Yar Old’, copynght 1913 The Atlantic Monthly Co , 
8 Arlington Street, Boston 16, Mass Atlantic Harvest, an Adantic Press Book, 
published by Little, Brown & Co 

‘WTiat Prayer Can Do’, from Guideposts Jeamaxy 1951, copynght 1950 by Guide- 
posts Assoaates Inc , Pawhng, N Y. 

‘Pctronella’, from The Star 27 February 1950, copynght 1950 by Argus Pnntmg 
and Publishmg Co Ltd , Johannesburg, Transvaal, Union of South Africa 
‘Seven Reasons ^\^ly a Scientist Beheves in God’, from the book Man Does Not 
Stand Alone, bv A dressy Momson, copynght 1944, and published by Fleimng 
H ReveU Co , New York 

‘My Ninety Acres’, copynght 1943-1945, Louis Bromfield, and published by 
Harper & Brothers, New York My Ninety Acres ongmally appeared m Cosmopolitan 
September 1944. 

‘State Fair’, from Holiday August 1948, published by The Curtis Pub Co , 
Independence Square, Philadelphia 5, Pa 

‘Mothers of the Wild’, from Field & Stream February 1941, copyright 1941, Field &. 
Stream Publishing Co , 515 Madison Avc , N Y C 

‘Crash m Shangn-La’, copvnght 1945, Kmg Features Syndicate Inc , 235 E 45 St , 
New York 17, N-Y (International News Service Division) 

‘The Rescue on Station Charhe’, from The Atlantic Monthly July 1950, copynght 
1950 by The Atlantic Monthly Co , 8 Arhngton Street, Boston 16, Mass 
‘The Perfect Case’, from The Rotanan December 1943, copynght 1943, Rotary 
International, 33 E Wacker Dnve, Chicago, 111 . 

‘Lift Up Your Eyes to Marvel’, from Natural History December 1947, copynght 
1947, Amencan Museum of Natural Historv, 79 St at Central Park West, New 
York 24, N Y 

‘Twenty Minutes of Reaht/, copynght 1916, The Atlantic Monthly Co , 8 
Arhngton St., Boston 16, M^ Atlantic Harvest, an Atlantic Press Book published 
bv Little Brown & Co